Album Review: Wild Beasts – Two Dancers

by Mielle Sullivan on September 1, 2009

Going dancing with the Wild Beasts

Going dancing with the Wild Beasts

In the world of hyper-literate esoterock fathered by Collin Meloy and nursed by Joanna Newsom came the Wild Beasts to remind us it should never be taken seriously. Their debut album Limbo, Panto along with their first five singles took the train The Decemberists made out of antique English imagery and lyrical grandiloquence and drove it off cliff, which is, frankly, where it belonged in the first place.
But while Limbo, Panto had me jubilantly dancing to the absurdity of antediluvian language, stopping only momentarily to ponder gonadal imagery, Two Dancers has me questioning if there is anything in the universe of the Wild Beasts that can be taken seriously while sung in affected falsetto. Is there any actual social commentary, no matter how shallow, to be found in “Hooting and Howling”? Maybe. I can say that it is a good song, both lyrically and musically even without the layer of absurdity that the vocabulary and vocal histrionics provide–something I am not sure I can say about any previous Wild Beasts song. For all the catchy brilliance of “Assembly,” it is indistinguishable from the fatuousness of “My tops off! I’m a goose pimpled God!” However, “We’re just brutes bored in our bovver boots/We’re just brutes clowning ‘round in cahoots'” isn’t a completely absurd line. It’s almost just creative.

That’s not to say that “Hooting and Howling” is a better song (it’s not); just that it straddles the line between delightful nonsense and, well, decent indie rock. Similarly, “We’ve Still Got the Taste Dancing on Our Tongues” would probably be a good song if it were sung by, say, the oh-so-earnest Interpol. But I am pretty sure the rhythmic, high-pitched wailing adds something.

Simply because no one threw a better over-the-top, lexicon-mining jamboree better than the Wild Beasts, I hope Two Dancers doesn’t mean they have tamed. The press release for Two Dancers describes their sound as “erotic downbeat music” but I wouldn’t take it seriously.

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