By Wild Beasts
Ever feel like you're being sold the emperor's cast-offs? That's how I felt listening to this record for the first few times. I couldn't see. I felt ashamed, wondering whether I should be the one to call out. What did I actually do? I procrastinated. I wasn't waiting for the other reviews to mount up, I just wanted to give the record a chance to breathe. You don't come across a record like this every day, at times it feels eccentric, at others beguiling, sometimes it's a complete turnoff. Perhaps that's why it feels important; for once it doesn't feel like a retread.
'Through Dark Night' marks a significant moment for Wild Beasts; it will be their last single for the eccentric Bad Sneakers stable before they embark on their glittery future at Domino Records. Their previous single has drawn attention from respected talent scouts such as Pitchfork, already instrumental in the establishment of other awkward bands such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Deerhoof.
Enough of History 101. From a laughably standard configuration of four guys with drums and guitars Wild Beasts produce an otherworldly sound led by the part mockingbird, part squeaky-voiced teen frontman Hayden Norman Thorpe. His manipulation of the English language ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, frequently within the same line, and there's occasional echoes of Morrissey's vocabulary if not his insecurity ("But, I only winded that lad before he bolted / And, I only fumbled that lass, besides, I was revolted"). The carefully constructed lyrics (available through MySpace) are, I should note, often unintelligible.
Musically Wild Beasts do provide a good deal more than a backing track even if they often cede the foreground to Thorpe's irrepressible histrionics. 'Please, Sir' plays off the comical lyrics ("Take these chips with cheese / As an offering of peace") delivered in heartfelt fashion against a quiet swirl, the effect like a madrigal group gone awry. In contrast 'Through Dark Night' is all guitar-strumming and toe-tapping; this shift in styles seems to be becoming a Bad Sneakers trademark.