Wild Beasts are back in the groove, more so than ever before. After a short hiatus between 2011’s Smother and 2014’s Present Tense, the band now looks as relevant and pumped up as ever. There’s a significant change in sound, a band, completely at ease with itself, and with the gradual evolution that has occurred with each release..
Boy King is more dance-oriented, it has funkier and groovier cores. It has thick bass lines, the now beautifully bizarre drum beats that give the band such a distinctive sound, and the voices of the two men, Hayden Thorpe and Ben Little.
On the early tracks the guitar solos provide some of the sucker punch, and is the most mesmerising part of the new Wild Beasts sound, bar the inescapable grooves. It’s not long before you realise that for the most part the change in sound hasn’t altered how consistent and brilliant this band is. It’s a thoroughly reliable band whose every album is fascinating in one way or another. Even the song titles are somehow physical, muscular and imposing – ‘Big Cat,’ ‘Tough Guy’ and ‘He The Colossus’ to name a few.
There is nothing quite as beautiful here as the previous record’s ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’ but it’s a version of Wild Beasts that’s undeniably sexy and magnetic. The balance of the two singer’s voices, the density of sound throughout giving that consistent sense of unease in the band’s music, and the desire to evolve, expand the band’s sonic portfolio is enough to satisfy fans of the band and beyond. There are some unusual and compelling sounds throughout the album as well, that give it a weirdly attractive appeal. ‘Dreamliner’ is the final and by far the most heartfelt and tender track on display. It’s something Wild Beasts does so very well, and leaving it for the album’s final word feels just a little strange.
So, album number 5 sees the band flex its muscles like never before. Though there are some cracking tunes on this record, you can’t avoid the abiding feeling that it isn’t the band’s best set of songs. It’s further proof that regardless of how the band shape shifts a little it’s one of Britain’s more reliable bands. Each album can’t continually be better than the previous one, but it’s a band that is never less than well worth your time.