A sudden full stop to a brilliant career, Wild Beasts will be sorely missed from Britain’s indie scene.
After a decade of producing some of the most sensual, intelligent and artful British indie in recent memory, to gradually accelerating commercial gains, last month’s sudden announcement from Wild Beasts that they will be splitting up early next year came as something of a surprise. Not only were the Kendal-based four-piece beloved by a devoted fanbase, their name was slowly growing, the band creeping further up the billing of major festivals year by year and penetrating the UK Top Ten with their last two albums. 2016’s Boy King may have split opinion among fans, but it was a bold and daring attempt to move their sound forward, utilising rougher, funkier textures to coarsen their hypnotic sound.
But, alas, after two big farewell shows next February in Manchester and London (sidebar: why no Leeds, guys??) that will be that for Wild Beasts. Britain will be losing one of its finest bands, an emotionally intelligent and literate group that straddled between highbrow, arch witticisms and lowbrow, smutty humour. However, they did announced that they’ll be leaving us with one final EP, containing three songs left over from the Boy King sessions.
The collection’s lead single, ‘Punk Drunk & Trembling’, shows us a possible path that Wild Beasts could have ended up travelling down on a hypothetical sixth album. Rather than inhabiting the macho persona from Boy King that the band had spent their career subverting, lead singer Hayden Thorpe goes back to his falsetto, embedded in shifting electronic textures and a hypnotic rhythm that’s most similar to 2014’s Present Tense.
The third track, ‘Maze’, sees Tom Fleming more guttural voice floating on a sea of synths, in a percussion-free and down-beat ending to Wild Beasts’ career. It, too, points towards what could have been. Only second track ‘Last Night All My Dreams Came True’ is obviously an off-cut from Boy King, boasting the same kind of funky, louche strut that characterised so much of that record.
The retirement of Wild Beasts from the British indie scene will be felt as a significant loss, and the quiet, modest but impressive quality of Punk Drunk & Trembling underlines that. There’s every chance that they’ll think better of their split and do an LCD Soundsystem in a few years’ time, but at least for now, this EP serves as a poignant full-stop at the end of a brilliant career. (7/10) (Ed Biggs)
Listen to Punk Drunk & Trembling EP by Wild Beasts here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: Ben Little, Chris Talbot, Domino, EP, Hayden Thorpe, Punk Drunk & Trembling, review, Tom Fleming, Wild Beasts
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