Review: Wild Beasts

Simon ParkinWhen they released their debut, this Lake District outfit were one of those bands I felt I'd like to like, but try as I might I just couldn't get my head around. Now they've taken their sound in directions previously barely hinted at.Simon Parkin


When they released their debut album, Limbo, Panto, three years ago, this Lake District outfit were one of those bands I felt I'd like to like, but try as I might I just couldn't get my head around it.

It seems, I wasn't alone. The album's wilfully eccentric qualities were widely described as having divided opinion. Key evidence for this was the soaring and swooping falsetto of frontman Hayden Thorpe, which although a strange delight, too often warped the music that came into its unpredictable orbit.

Since then, as they tell us tonight, the band retired to Norfolk's Leeders Farm Studio to produce a second album that takes their sound into directions only previously hinted at.

The literate, exotic dance-funk rhythms and eerie melodies from Two Dancers that makes up the bulk of this set has somehow synthesised all their diverse parts into a coherent whole.

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Underpinned by the rhythms of bassist Tom Fleming and drummer Chris Talbot, even Hayden's vocal flights of fancy now sound like a natural extension rather than a baffling oddity.

Though there was a slightly sluggish Monday night hangover quality to this appearance - probably as much to do with the audience as the band, there is no doubting the infectiousness of latest single We Still Got the Taste Dancing On Our Tongues, with its sideways take on small town life.

While All The King's Men shows how Fleming's own vocal extravagances now almost match Hayden's, adding to a sound that's straining for bigger things.

It was noticeable that even the handful of songs aired from their debut are given altogether beefier workovers. While Hooting and Howling was a rallying call for surely greater things to come.

Earlier, Paul Marshall, who three years ago released the acclaimed Vultures, returned in a rather literally interpretation of his 2010 guise, Lone Wolf.

Though previous shows have involved a band including the Grammatics' Linsey Wilson, Duels' Jon Foulger and James Kenosha and Metronomy's Anna Prior, here Marshall performed tracks from his upcoming album, The Devil And I, solo. And though, as he pointed out, we had to image the full effect, it captured the attention.

Erland & The Carnival were formed by Orkney Islander Erland Cooper along with ex-Verve guitarist Simon Tong and drummer David Nock.

Theirs is a spooky cinematic mix of 60s garage pyschedelia and Wicker Man folk, not unlike The Coral or the Last Shadow Puppets. And in Cooper they have a charismatic frontman directing a sound that is unashamedly nostalgic, but none the worse for that.

The brisk business for their debut eponymous album at the merchandise stall afterwards suggests they're ones to watch.