Wild Beasts – Present Tense


Since their inception a decade ago the U.K.’s Wild Beasts have been steadily ascending to bigger better things with each progressive album topping the last. This all culminated with 2011’s much-praised Smother an album that found the group trading theatrics for a decidedly more seductive sound. It was a high-water mark to be sure and not exactly an easy record for Present Tense to follow.

But in many ways Present Tense sticks with what made Smother so great namely nocturnal electro-rock hybrids that are as seductive as they are moving. Again the influence of Mark Hollis and his Talk Talk is still strong in Wild Beasts often thanks to the powerful operatic punch of Hayden Thorpe’s vocals as well as the band’s love for injecting experimental art-damaged textures into otherwise straightforward structures.

If there’s a change-up here it’s the band’s heavier reliance on synth-geared electronic elements which flirt with everything from classic 4AD guitar textures slinky bass lines and wildly off-kilter percussion. This may come out better on the purposely hooky tracks such as “Wanderlust” and the ’80s-tinged “Sweet Spot” but the album’s repeated downers hold their own as well.

For once Wild Beasts may have plateaued with Present Tense rather than topping themselves but the record still holds its own when it comes to top-notch sex jams for intellectuals.