UK indie rock band Wild Beasts are to release their fourth album Present Tense out this month on Domino records. The album opener “Wanderlust” is to be released as a single the same day. Presenting a marked change in sound, the new album takes inspiration from lo-fi 80s and 90s electronic music but with a current spin. Recorded over a year, Hayden Thorpe, Tom Fleming, Chris Talbot and Ben Little took a year off from touring and created the eleven tracks recorded in Konk studios in London and at The Distillery in Bath. The band worked with co-producers Lexxx and Brian Eno’s protégé Leo Abrahams, which explains the stripped back, resonant sound on the new release.
The building and powerful “Wanderlust” is the perfect introduction to the bands new sound. Subtleties in sound become more apparent with more listens, and Thorpe’s vocals skip around low and high notes with ease. Deep, reverberating keys construct a beautiful driving melody which leads up to one of the most powerful lines in the song; “don’t confuse with me someone who gives a fuck”. The release also features remixes of “Wanderlust” by Factory Floor and The Field.
“Nature Boy” sees an even deeper baritone before “Mecca” opens with an atmospheric echo and rhythmic fast moving stanzas with electric guitar; “we move in desire… ‘cos all we want is to feel that feeling again”. Production shines in Present Tense and “Sweet Spot” is no exception. Vocals whirl around eighties sounding electric guitar and bass with synth highlights. “Daughters” is a moody, distinctive track with a somber tone; “I’m taping up the windows and the doors, I’m nailing all my pretty things to the floor”.
“Pregnant Pause” is filled with emotion and addresses problems in communication; “Sometimes my heart hurts to watch you, there’s a blind spot that I can’t get to, sometimes you seem like a lost cause, breath a second, feel that pregnant pause”. “A Simple Truth” is more upbeat but still with an underlying feeling of tender sadness.
“New Life” opens with one constant electronic note whilst Thorpe’s distinctive and moving vocals work their magic over top in a brilliant soundscape.
Closing track “Palace” sees keys, synth and a similar powerful tone to opener “Wanderlust”, bringing the album full circle nicely. All in all, Wild Beasts bring together beautiful, simple songwriting with an emotional resonance, coherent melodies and intricate instrumental compositions. In fact, Present Tense is a grand lesson in the effectiveness of simplicity and use of subtleties of music.