Wild Beasts try for a new sound, and come up with...something?Domino, 2016
4.8 / 10
Wild Beasts have always been pretty minimal. Their songs have often gone for the unsettling feeling that comes from echoing silence, driven by Hayden Thorpe’s androgynous, back-of-the-throat vocals. On past records, the aesthetic has worked, such as on the chilling “Lion’s Share” from 2011’s Smother, but now it appears the group is in a bit of a rut. Boy King, their newest album, often fails to come up with anything organic in the songwriting or production department, sounding like another band with less ideas than Wild Beasts. A big part of their music has felt like unnatural, angular songs made from natural parts, but the demo-quality synths here toss that idea aside quickly.
It’s immediate from the outset, with “Big Cat”. The synthetic beat feels too simple, like it came from a child’s keyboard, and the toothless melody leaves so much to be desired. By the time Thorpe is yelping “Big cat/ Top of the food chain”, it becomes clear the track is neither catchy or unique. This blueprint applies to basically the entirety of the record — shitty dance beat, half-assed vocals. If there was more to engage the listener, then these songs would be much better. “Get My Bang” isn’t too bad, with an angry bassline pulsating throughout, but the lack of passion is palpable. And no bangs were had. John Congleton, for all his other interesting production work, seems to have just cashed the check and twisted a few knobs, and the same could feasibly be said for Wild Beasts. When it’s worked for them in the past, it’s been magic, and hopefully Wild Beasts will find that magic again.