Present Tense (Domino)
The fourth record from Cumbria’s finest is their most palatable offering to date. Having recently told Crack they “don’t want just to be interpretable by musos”, the album title Present Tense points towards a return to the intuitive immediacy seen on 2008’s Limbo, Panto, but also makes it clear that Wild Beasts are by no means reverting. There’s a hugely broadened palette on show here, most noticeably in a pronounced movement toward synthesised sounds. And it feels justified, a necessary move to bring some of that intuition back. Eight years in and Wild Beasts are still feeling their way as they go, and that’s part of what makes Present Tense such a joy to listen to.
As ever, this is a record that revels in a back and forth sway. Obviously there’s the tag teaming between lead vocalists Hayden Thorpe and Ben Little, or as Hayden has described it “the comedy high voice, comedy low voice double act”. But more than that, the album as a whole sways between joyously upbeat and epic melodrama. Perhaps the most upbeat of them all, A Simple Beautiful Truth lives up to its lofty title, while the following track A Dog’s Life switches back with a welcome dose of moody introspection. The continuous changing of mood and tempo breathes life into the album, indulging in an almost theatrical feel. It can be a touch crude, but we’ve come to expect that from Wild Beasts. It’s the instinctive simplicity of the band that ensures they remain treasured. The triumph of Present Tense is that they manage to keep hold of this whilst continuing to push their own sound.
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Words: Jack Lucas Dolan