Wild Beasts – Boy King Review 


The very talented Cumbrian quartet that is Wild Beasts are back with their follow up to their brilliant fourth album Present Tense from 2014 with Boy King. It is an album that sees them mark a sea change in their sound as they look to drop the whirring, Art-Rock Psychedelica of two years ago for a Dark Pop, Electronic and Industrial sound. Despite being one of Britain’s most effective creative forces with several impressive efforts behind them; the band are being tipped to realise their true potential with Boy King. This is an odd expectation from a group that has proven their capabilities for years, but much of this success has occurred partially under the radar. Their greatest albums have often been overshadowed by The Horrors, PJ Harvey and FKA Twigs who generally stole British acclaim  from them in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Will a radical new sound see them get what they deserve? 

The opening single from the album is ‘Get My Bang’. It features heavily distorted bass elements and electronica that are met with crisp percussion and undulating anti-melodies that fall from Hayden Thorpe’s quivering vocals. The track is clear and bold with stocky sounds playing off slick pop melodies with Hayden’s often mysterious vocals spilling from it all. The track is rhythmic and purposeful whilst maintaining a distorted and rough core melody. This sound only sacrificed for a disorientating reprieve with a delicate and unerring falsetto to match it. ‘Big Cat’ is a song that continues the group on their dark electro-rock path this time with smooth progressions and crisp instrumentation on top of that; whirring, modulated synths act as the former and sharp riffs the latter. Hayden Thorpe’s tuneful utterances give the song an added fluidity and sense of effortlessness. A sense of suggestive unease remains with this track and beneath the slightly off clean presentation of the song are the thinly-veiled threats of the “Big Cat on top of the food chain”. ‘Tough Guy’ opens as a well poised piece of Electro-pop with minimalistic instrumentation and isolated vocals, yet a confidence about it demonstrates something more is to come. They duly deliver with bursts of blocky, distorted guitars that add a punchy to the song to match it’s confidence. The song is bold and uncomprosing with big, ambitous riffs and meandering synth chords. Despite this, the beat and style of the song remain unmoved. A song that goes big, but stays on point. 

There are spacious and dramatic expanses with ‘Celestial Creatures’ with cacophony of electronica in various packaged forms propelling the sound with an Industrial rough edge alongside spiralling, wiry sounds and rolling waves of sound. As these build and dominate the song, it almost heightens the senses as the song drags you up by the collar and into a different musical space altogether. ‘He The Colossus’ is a defiant and aggressive track that has echoes of Nine Inch Nails with it’s Industrial kick and edge, with driving riffs and heavily modulated beats and electronica. The tumbling percussion add a certain manic tendency to the progression of the song which is punchy and unrelenting it it’s driving power. ‘Eat Your Heart of Adonis’ is a song with a similar feel with heavily modulated synths forming the key part of the song and this time with distorted guitars trailing it. The bold, imposing guitars of the chorus echo that of Foals 2015 efforts, but with a greater deal of precision. Other tracks such as ‘Aplha Female’ are reminiscent of the electronic sounds of the late 1970’s, but with a sharper focus and with Indistrial guitars waiting in the wings. This sound encased within a funk methodology which defies logic on paper, but sounds so natural. Wild Beasts have definitely reached a new level with their sound on Boy King. It is full of bold sounds and with bags of confidence and self-belief, even a musical arrogance in their abilities. This confidence shines through here and this kind of album is the result of a talented group giving themselves the freedom to change and hone their sound by producing server all great albums already. They are the perfect example of why music should never stand still.

Wild Beasts – Boy King = 9/10 

Owen Riddle

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