Wild Beasts – Present Tense Review


Wild Beasts from Kendal are on to their fourth album now and with each of the previous three, they have set a high bar for themselves. To continue with their success, adaptation and imagination is key to keep on reinventing themselves and this will need to be done with Present Tense. They have talked of pushing further with the electronic angle from 2011’s Smother and putting a more complex and aggressive slant upon it. After previously saying they were suffering from burnout with their third album and subsequent world tour; they have now had a decent amount of time to get Present Tense down and perfected so expect an album of high standards and refinement.

‘Wanderlust’ was the first track to be released off the album and came out in the last week of February. It opens with the steady bursts of classic synthesizers that remain an ever-present throughout in conjunction with the spring-echo of the percussion as the vocals samples and modes float alongside. The vocals are not recorded at full volume and the slight echo makes them feel cool and at ease as they slowly take the song along and string the parts together. The instrumentals see the synths grab the songs hook and pulls back towards the songs finale with the repeated vocals. The soft production of the primary vocal and melody is offset brilliantly by the more dense and isolated sounds of the driving synths in the background. ‘Sweet Spot’ begins with the subtle labouring riff that transforms into a more solid riff that offers a greater hook. The airy and ghostly backing vocals that open out and expand the songs space and integrate  with the main vocal that sits in the middle ground and adds balance to the instrumentals. The build up and let down of sounds and elements enhances the ease of the atmospheric tones the reverberate throughout the whole track. This is done with the heavy beams of the synth and is brought to it’s depth with the refrain of the guitars and the minimal arrangement of the vocal and percussion. The tone change is smoothly changed with the soft phasing of the synths to pull the song neatly back into the chorus and back to the source of the melody and rhythmic hooks. Such methods always work, but they have been tweaked to the finest aspects. Intuitive and creative takes on typical methods.

That rich and lingering atmosphere opens up ‘Mecca’ before winding the song up and sending it into a driving and pulsating synths track which is heavy on the percussion and has a dense and deep rooted bass line to rotate the rhythm and the groove. This allows the synths to shoot out from it. The conclusion starts with the spikey guitars that feed the song towards a culmination of vocals and synths before slowly peeling away the elements and ending in the same subdued and considered fashion it started. ‘New Life’ begins with two whirring synths at high and low pitches. The deep vocal matches it and delivers the lyrics in a more tragic and uneasy fashion. From this position it is set up for a perfect manipulation of sounds as the tearing guitar riff rips across and then as the modulated keys ever so slowly gather up pace to allow the percussion in and to allow the vocals to build. Each element slowly taking it’s place as the guitars come back in and the sounds begin to draw away from their source and expand so wonderfully in a patient and gradual fashion before slowly fading away again. ‘Nature Boy’ has a low depth and gritty sound about it’s electronica and from the lead vocal. The feather like backing vocals floating from it, but being unable to uproot the song from it’s deep standing. ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’ is a well placed piece of retro leaning electro-pop. The soft lapping and shimmering of the conflicting synths. The crisp riffs and bass lines enhancing it along with the pop like melodies, lyrics and delivery. You get dramatic and darker tracks such as ‘Daughters’ and the pure melodic events of ‘Past Perfect’. There is a wide spectrum of genres being reinterpreted and re-explored while some new events being forged through painstaking structuring and production and probably recording as well. The album together is a magnificent string of tracks with peaks and troughs all perfectly placed with a whole range of production methods from the beautiful building up of sound to the crisp and hook filled affairs. One of the albums of the year.

Wild Beasts – Present Tense = 9/10

File:Wild Beasts - Present Tense.jpg

Images from http://en.wikipedia.org / www.theguardian.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: