I’ve been a big fan of Wild Beasts for a while, since the second I laid ears on “Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants,” the quirky second single from their 2008 debut Limbo, Panto. The intricate, gorgeous, nigh indescribable layering of sound, Hayden Thorpe’s mind-blowing falsetto, Tom Fleming’s deep, throaty counterpoint to Thorpe… the whole package had me instantly hooked.
I remained hooked. Through 2009’s Two Dancers, much the same fare but with emerging electronics and more songs with a softer touch. Through 2011’s Smother, which maintained its indie rock backbone but made a decided step in the direction of mellower dream pop. Through 2014’s Present Tense, their most heavily synthesized effort to date, though it kept a level of aggression over Smother.
And through yesterday, with the announcement of Boy King, their fifth studio album, and it’s leading single, “Get My Bang,” which represents the next logical step in Wild Beasts’ auditory evolution.
Deep and rich with a funky bounce in its step, “Get My Bang” sees Thorpe and crew return to their lavish search for ultimately fleeting carnal (and consumerist) pleasures. Following the close of Smother, which seemed to indicate a domestic settling down, this makes for a pleasant surprise.
Boy King was recorded in Texas (the first time Wild Beasts recorded in America, and only the second time outside of their native England) with John Congleton, repeat producer of St. Vincent and innumerable others. His touch is undeniable, from the clockwork drums, to the underlying funk feeling, to the screeching guitar solo “Get My Bang” ends on. And it’s a fit that suits Wild Beasts.
“No getting it right, no getting it wrong, just getting it on,” yearns Thorpe at one point. That’s exactly how they seem to have approached Boy King and “Get My Bang” — abandoning the sound they’d worked toward previously, instead striving recklessly and with abandon for some sort, any sort, of release.
“Get My Bang” is emotive. It’s raw, gritty, dirty, and, yes, just a bit sleazy. It’s both intuitive and counterintuitive, both dominant and submissive, both restrained and unbridled.
It ends, and it leaves you wanting a cigarette.