With only so many notes in the chromatic scale, the triumphs of countless artists preceding them and only one major release under their belts, such a momentous work of splendid art as Kendal indie eccentrics Wild Beasts have produced in Two Dancers was not a foregone conclusion.
It just wasn’t supposed to happen yet. �Afterall, this is a band fronted by Beverly Sills and Antony Hegartyimpersonators who make effervescent guitar pop a la OrangeJuice with Morrissey-esque existentialist prose. �Sure, their 2008 debut Limbo, Pantoforetold an ascent to greatness for the unique outfit, but it still assumed that they’d require a few more releasesand some time to grow before achieving that greatness.
So what happened to the years of mis-steps and misguided tangentsof extreme quirkiness that were supposed to follow?
Apparently, Wild Beasts have no time for such diversions. �A littlemore than one year has passed, and already the group has delivered ontheir promise of potential tenfold. �That will do just fine for thelisteners, thank you very much – it’s straight to the magnum opus,then!
Two Dancers is a gift, saturated with sensuality in every facet ofits being.
Melodically, each track shows the band to be more patient,deliberate, and successful with their ideas (and, for the most part,tempos) when compared to those on their first effort. �Whereas someLimbo, Panto selections, such as the deliciously raucous Brave BulgingBuoyant Clairvoyants, would at times buckle under the weight ofambition and derail aimlessly, Two Dancers’ tracksnever show any signs of weakness.
Instead, the listener is treated to one magnificent beauty afteranother. �Ethereal, reverberated, arpeggiated guitars float aboutgentle caresses of piano on the outstanding lead single Hooting &Howling, establishing a melodic theme that those same elements repeatin the exquisite Underbelly, as well as the haunting, secondincarnation of the title track. �In the first part, thescope is broadened dramatically with the help of distortion alongsidemore generous helpings of reverb, so as to completely envelop the earsas the tribal percussion does the same to the rest of the body.
Maturation is also inherent in the group’s especially distinctivevocals and lyrics. �Hayden Thorpe, armed once again with his sweeping,operatic falsetto, does well to temper his penchant for coupling hisarias with caustic growls. �This time, he reserves his screeches andyelps for more opportune moments, such as the declaration that theyare “just brutes” in Hooting, or his acting as the harem surroundinghis throaty counterpart Tom Flemming (who balances him well on this record) in the delectable All the King’s Men.
Lyrically the band exudes great confidence as the two croonersspin kinky, somewhat disturbing yarns that contrast the beauty andmajesty of the album’s instrumentation. �Wild Beasts wish to make boththe skin and mind goose-pimpled with intelligent and explicit phrasingsuch as “when we pucker up, our lips are bee-stung,” which simmerswithin the chorus of the splendid selection We Still Got The TasteDancing On Our Tongues.
Arguably the most endearing aspect of Two Dancers is itsextraordinary production, which does incredibly well to ensurethat their brilliance is presented cleanly to, instead ofimposed upon, the ears of the listener. �Wild Beasts themselves, alongwith engineer Richard Formby, are responsible for the impeccablearrangement of every beautiful nuance comprised in each song, and inturn elevate absorption of the music to a transcendent experience.
As the subtle, off-tonic final note puts to bed the album closer TheEmpty Nest, and with every aspect of the record exceeding expectations, Two Dancers makes a strong case to be named album of the year.Yet if this release has taught us anything, it is to not assumewhat is and isn’t possible in music. �Ignore speculation, and simplymake time to bask in the seemingly endless supply of luxuriousdelights contained within this stunning achievement.