Review Summary: Unique, ethereal and brilliant. This isn't an album that you can afford to miss.
It's rare for an album to come along and please everyone, Arcade Fire just about managed to do this with "Suburbs" last year, picking up dozens of awards and wide spread acclaim although for many of us the album itself was slightly lacking in anything truly inspiring or unique. With "Smother", Wild Beasts have managed to give us something better. It has a similar tone and will undoubtedly appeal to the wider public, but it's speckled with so many flashes of brilliance that it will be remembered for a good while yet.
"Smother" can be generally categorised as Indie Rock, there's a wide array of synths and instruments present, with particular mention of some pretty predominant percussion, but it's done tastefully and does not fall into the trap of descending into a synth-drowned mess. It's chilled out for the most part, with Thorpe's sometimes shaky, but nevertheless soft and pleasant vocals weaving their way around slow-paced songs about seemingly nonsensical things.
The growth of Wild Beasts from their previous two albums is certainly something to note. Before they have displayed their original style but only to tease us with it, as if they were insecure about bucking the trend of Indie Rock as it stands today. With "Smother" they've finally managed to distance themselves in order to deliver us something that is truly them, instead of simply something that we expect from them.
Possibly the most striking thing about the album is its ability to absorb the listener instantly. The deceptively simple, but on further listen incredibly complicated, arrangements present in each song make the album easy to listen to on the first few plays yet still fascinating as you continue to delve deeper into it. This could be by incredibly subtle bass lines or possibly the quiet, off-beat claps that crop up every now and again. By listening to Wild Beasts you are giving yourself over to a dreamworld in which you are swamped by ethereal, fantastical wonder.
And if an album can make me admit to that then it's obviously doing something.
Highlights include "End Come Too Soon", a piece which swells up and down, with the lyrics cutting in and out to put equal significance on the parts where they are present and when they are not with a powerful instrumental part in the middle. "Invisible" is slightly less adventurous, with a drifting, haunting tone that drives on and on into your head until you are infected by it. The ending lyrics too of "Your lips to my lips/ I cease to exist" are as impossible to forget as they are beautiful.
"Smother" is very much one of those albums that you can't afford to ignore. It's a masterpiece of heartfelt songwriting mixed with growing talent and new ideas. It's beaten-down, depressed but all the more wonderful for it and I strongly urge all of you to go out and buy it.