Review Summary: A double step dance in moonless alleys.
It takes two to Tango. It also takes two to Paso Doble. The former displays harmony while the latter is a duel. Wild Beasts
’ second album Two Dancers
is a Paso Doble, a bull fight full of abusive love and sexual deviance. There are two participants in this masquerade but there is nothing symbiotic about their relationship. The themes explored on this album are tales of a woeful domestic life. From custody battles, divorce, and teenage runaways, to eroticism, abuse, and parasitic relationships, it’s a dance to the music of selfish maneuvers on a tight rope of domestic commitments.
Only one year after their debut album earned them merited attention, Wild Beasts completed Two Dancers
, not only improving on 2008’s Limbo, Panto
but cementing themselves as one of the most promising indie bands making music today. A truly cohesive record blending indie rock, dream pop, and dance music, Two Dancers
howls to be set on loop play.
Opener “The Fun Powder Plot” sets the tone for the LP with a silky groove. It also makes it quite apparent that lyrical messages will be hard fought as it’s rather enigmatic. A bit of research is required here. As it turns out, “The Fun Powder Plot” is presumably about Fathers 4 Justice, an activist group that stands for equal rights for fathers. More specifically the song refers to the protest that happened outside of London’s House Of Commons. Yet the track doesn’t maintain this premise throughout as it dips in and out of the sexual imagery rampant on the album (“this is a booty call / my boot up your a**h*** / this is a Freudian slip / my slipper in your bits”).
The abusive love theme begins to solidify in “All The King's Men” as bass player and occasional vocalist Tom Fleming sings of women as “candied queens” and “birthing machines.” Marriage and domestication here are shown to have the dark potential for oppressive subservience against the ironic backdrop of perky melodies and swung guitars. The girls in the song are made into objects whom the boys will drape in jewels, cut off their hair, and throw out their shoes. There is nothing mutual about this partnership; this is the fray between the two dancers.
Title track “Two Dancers” comes in twin parts, with the first perhaps being heaviest in tone among all songs. Recounting what very likely is a tale of prostitution and violence, “Two Dancers (i)” sets the stage for “Two Dancers (ii)”’s narrative of separation (“two hearts, no more”).
While it’s impossible to ignore the sexual content in Two Dancers
there is much more going on here than tawdry words and perversity. The erotic script is necessary to bring the universal tone of dirty, sinful, forbidden lust to the doorsteps of every neighborhood. By means of cold atmospherics, a dance floor pulse, and seductive vocals the underbelly of domestic life has been exposed.
4.5 / 5 stars