Wild Beasts have conceived of their fifth album as a grand statement — a record that deconstructs and even repudiates many of the things this most un-laddish of indie outfits have until now stood for.
Previously, the Cumbria band had styled themselves a sort of anti-Oasis: in touch with their feelings, sensitive towards others and disapproving of the swaggering masculinity de rigueur among a certain stripe of UK groups (they were the boys who DID cry).
And while Boy King is unlikely to be mistaken for a 21st century Be Here Now, it nonetheless switches things up in a quite radical fashion, with the quartet swapping man-hugs for hormonal shrieks and r-rated lyrics.
If Wild Beasts are channeling anyone here it is Prince and his tumescent twitterings. ‘Get My Bang’ dallies in avant-garde lechery (and an on the nose critique of consumerism); ‘Alpha Female’ and ‘Big Cat’ ally singer Tom Hayden Thorpe’s salty falsetto with grubby disco grooves.
What results is compelling and unsettling — a jolting delve into the psyche of the stereotypical ‘nice’ guy.
Granted four 30 something English rockers delivering a state of the nation address on buttoned-down male sexuality, in an era of third wave feminism and trial by Twitter, may sound like the worst idea since U2 tried to sneak their album onto your hard drive. However, Wild Beasts have paired their journeys into the risqué with an endlessly compelling mash-up of synths and great wobbly beats, to the point where Boy King scarcely qualifies as a rock album at all.
Rather this is a dense, damaged electro odyssey, strip-lit with desire and frustration and, above all, a hunger to try something new, hang the consequences.
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