Wild Beasts
Boy King


4.0
excellent

Review

by DoofusWainwright USER (100 Reviews)
August 5th, 2016 | 141 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rocking the Leopard Print

One of the most impressive catalogues of recent years, Wild Beast's previous four albums have traced a natural sounding evolution; the camp sexually provocative melodrama of their truly wild debut made way for the more sophisticated and increasingly sensual take on that album's follow up 'Two Dancers' before the band refined their sound further on the Talk Talk indebted 'Smother' and electro pop referencing 'Present Tense'. It's a run of winners that has no doubt earned the band a great deal of goodwill and a free swing of the bat, one these headstrong lads were unlikely to pass up. For make no mistake 'Boy King' marks the band's largest stylistic departure, less an evolutionary step than strapping on their lab coats and dabbling in some genetic engineering. So it's not just the sound palette that's been revamped this time, rather here the boys decided to shred their established songwriting rule book before gleefully sticking it back together in an attempt to fashion the blueprint for an altogether different animal.

When a band have released four albums and been touring for over ten years there often comes a point where keeping that live show fresh becomes the primary concern. Boredom is the enemy and 'Boy King' shows all the hallmarks of an album built to pep up a tour weary crew; it's brash, full of fun vocal soundbites and easily their most danceable release. For better and for worse this music is a world away from the shimmering elemental beauty that was presented on 'Smother'. The two lead singles released in advance of the album are likely to be particularly divisive as these capture the new song writing approach at its most flagrant; the tongue in cheek 'Get My Bang' is written like fluffy chart dance-pop but reveals its textural charms over repeat listens with the deep bass tones entering at the second verse particularly effective; meanwhile the underwritten 'Big Cat' is rescued by Hayden Thorpe's vocal nuances and sublime singing tone throughout. This is a recurrent theme on 'Boy King' where initial concerns are frequently allayed by a classic touch or two, whether that's the additional melody that appears at the minute mark in 'He the Colossus' or the watertight rhythmic backbone that lifts the swirling 'Celestial Creatures' when the nondescript vocal melodies threaten to stifle the song.

The album may be defined by chest beating bravado but pleasingly the band still find space for some of their trademark expansive fare. Closing track 'Dreamliner' is little more than ambient textures and a pretty Thorpe vocal but that doesn't stop it from being a highly welcome soothing farewell, effectively mopping the listener's sweaty brow as they're released back into the night. Meanwhile it's obvious on 'Boy King' that second lead vocalist Tom Fleming has taken a markedly reduced role here but he's still afforded the opportunity to put in a star turn on '2BU', a song that effectively serves as the centrepiece of the album and surprisingly is a strong shout for standout track. On an album that sees the promotion of energy and rhythm ahead of melody and diversity for the most part these songs are an absolute godsend and will afford 'Boy King' some genuine longevity.

In the past Wild Beasts have always managed to straddle that line between romance and raw predatory instinct without ever falling into outright lechery, striking those winning seductive notes whilst effortlessly sidestepping even the merest hint of cheesy suaveness. 'Boy King' is strikingly brave as it attempts to do away with much of this trademark charisma, stripping the characters who populate this world down to their ugly base primal urges; this is the first Wild Beasts album where the audience isn't always rooting for a song's protagonist. Certainly you are expected to be highly suspicious of the 'big cats' and 'virgin killers' who stalk these songs, regardless of any doubts and frailty they may inadvertently betray at times; if in the past you pictured this band as presenting warped versions of their own selves through their lyrics this is where that illusion has unceremoniously been curtailed. Of course in many ways this is problematic, especially if a large chunk of this act's appeal was enjoying that well cultivated personality. It is to the great credit of Wild Beasts that this is far from the killer blow you'd expect; instead of floundering you find a band expanding their range whilst successfully completing that primary objective of injecting a couple of hip swinging bangers into their live set.



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user ratings (83)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofusWainwright
August 5th 2016


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A bit light on melody this one but it has a uniqueness that I think will serve it well in the grand scheme as part of a complete discography

emester
August 5th 2016


8271 Comments


Whats with everyone's obsession with the Far Cry: Blood Dragon font lately

DoofusWainwright
August 5th 2016


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think it's a bit of a cynical wink on an album that packs a fair few more

theBoneyKing
August 5th 2016


17715 Comments


Swell review as usual Doof!

Looking at your past ratings for these guys I'm prepay impressed. They sound like they're a bit outside my usual fare (though that Talk Talk allusion intrigued me); would I dig them?

Digging: Cocteau Twins - Treasure

DoofusWainwright
August 5th 2016


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Boney, you'd like either 'Two Dancers' or 'Smother' the most I'd guess



Can you handle plummy vocals?

zakalwe
August 5th 2016


29119 Comments


Can't stand 'em.

Top drawer review doof dude.

theBoneyKing
August 5th 2016


17715 Comments


If I'm in the right mood I can Doof.

May give this a spin and see how I feel, from your review it sounds like this is somewhat of a departure for them so I guess even if I don't feel this I may still dig some of their other stuff.

DoofusWainwright
August 5th 2016


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers zak, not a fan of this lot at all?



Probably my favourite British band of the last ten years (I know that isn't saying too much, not exactly a lot of competition)

zakalwe
August 5th 2016


29119 Comments


I've not really given them the time to be honest doof mate.
Another Anthony Hegarty load of music student warbled nonsense.

danielcardoso
August 5th 2016


11770 Comments


Never heard em doof, is this a good starting point?

zakalwe
August 5th 2016


29119 Comments


Music student warbled nonsense Dan dude steer clear. Stick on the Dino Jr road of truth

DoofusWainwright
August 5th 2016


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

They're nothing like Hegarty for me, they remind me more of the Droogs from Clockwork Orange, especially on the early albums



Also Tom Fleming's voice > Guy Garvey's

anatelier
August 5th 2016


2920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

One of my favourite bands of all time. Gutted to read that Fleming's role is reduced because his voice is so warm. Great review though, excited to listen in full, and I've turned around massively on all the singles.



EDIT: zak, these guys far surpass the faux-political tripe of ANOHNI. Great, candid lyricists and the grooves to boot. Each album is markedly different. I could warble about them for days to be honest.

TVC15
August 5th 2016


10253 Comments


That summary made me think this was gonna be a hip hop album

Digging: Medicine - 5ive [Come Here to Drink Milk]

DoofusWainwright
August 5th 2016


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Anatelier - I was torn between a 3.5 and 4 for this rating, it's probably going to end up my least favourite of theirs so far. I plumped for a 4 because I possibly regretted not giving higher ratings to a couple of other reviews of new releases this year.



The interaction between Thorpe and Fleming isn't really there this album because if Tom's providing backing vocals they usually are heavily effects laden this time

anatelier
August 5th 2016


2920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've not rated any WB album lower than a 4, but having said that I may need to revise them. Hard for me to pick a favourite, but I reckon Two Dancers just edges it.

DoofusWainwright
August 5th 2016


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Smother' is just ahead of 'Two Dancers' for me but it's a close thing.

dbizzles
August 5th 2016


13622 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I feel obligated to check this, but the first single was such a steaming heap of shit from out of nowhere that I don't even know what to expect- even after your review, which was good, btw.

Digging: Sanguisugabogg - Pornographic Seizures

DoofusWainwright
August 5th 2016


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dbizzles - If you hated 'Get My Bang' I'd expect at most you'll only enjoy half of this - the more typical Wild Beasts songs:



Celestial Creatures, 2BU, Ponytail, Dreamliner



'Get My Bang' grew on me a lot (the layering and little details) more than the second single, the opener, but I've kinda warmed to the approach taken as part of a whole album

anatelier
August 5th 2016


2920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Get My Bang won me over with the line "we're living alter ego, which me do you wanna know?"



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