Wild Beasts Wild BeastsSmother
Sex is an interesting subject, almost as interesting as the real thing. Wild Beasts know that all too well. Their music oozes wild eroticism and they manage the concept of desire like few other bands. They showed it with the almost pornographic treatment of “Limbo, Panto” and with the humid perfection of the best lay in pop in 2009: “Two Dancers”. “Smother” is something else. It’s equally humid, but with different secretions. For starters, a character as sensual as the ‘o’ is missing from what could have been the title, “smoother”. A lot smoother, more refined, Wild Beasts’ new suit fits them perfectly. The seams are resistant and feel as pleasant as the velvet of Talk Talk and the silk of The Blue Nile ( “Invisible” sounds like it’s taken from “A Walk Across The Rooftops”). Furthermore, Hayden Thorpe’s vocals sound more like Paul Buchanan than ever. He’s shouting less and has varied his vocal expression so much that saying his and Tom Fleming’s voices together sound sexy is an understatement. With the concept as lubricated as this, it’s not hard to get excited when listening to “Smother”.
Discreet and sumptuous, it’s an album that should be enjoyed with your eyes closed, a record that sounds like a room with the doors closed, in comparison with “Limbo, Panto” and “Two Dancers”. It hasn’t got the cabaret-like impact of the first one, nor the voluptuous drive of the second. Rather than inciting one to promiscuity, it sounds like the soundtrack to one of those comfort-sex encounters during which the tears of the already broken-up couple mix with their sweat. The basslines slither like snakes on your skin and the synthesisers seem to whisper never-before confessed sins. “Smother” lowers the score of sins like wrath, avarice and gluttony, but comes in high on vanity and lust. There are no real hits like on the previous records, the hooks are more timid ( “Deeper” doesn’t even need a bridge to sound complete), yet the enchantment is total. Apart from sure-fire tunes like the dark welcome of “Lion’s Share” and the oriental strings of “Burning”, little by little you end up in the hot claws of “Plaything” or the traps of Radiohead-style guitar tracks like “Reach A Bit Further” and the exquisite “Loop The Loop”. On the latter we find the main erogenous point of the album, where the lyric runs, “the people are the strangest things”. It’s a high-octane verse that perfectly sums up why “Smother” is something to long for every night, something as desirable as any “little death”.