This is a review of "Limbo Panto" recorded by Wild Beasts. The review was written by Maria Pinto-Fernandes in 2008.
Where to start with Wild Beasts? Their music is haunting and terrifying and oh so terribly exciting. And although admittedly, you’ll most likely be freaked out to fuck at first listen, allow the Leeds/Kendal/somwherefarfromhere quartet work on you and thou shalt be thankful. Wild Beasts are like absolutely nothing you have ever heard, not even like anything on that obscure underground mixtape that your first love made you in 1996. What other band lists falsetto, bass and baritone next to the humdrum of instruments that populate every other outfit?
The awesomely-titled opener ‘Vigil For a Fuddy Duddy’ begins in a rather conventional sense as drums and the like kick in for a comfortable ride, yes? Mais non copain! Hayden Thorpe’s thrilling falsetto spectacularly rips through the otherwise repetitive formula of drum and guitar. The musical arrangement transports one to a place far, so far from here that coupled with Hayden’s falsetto which veers from soprano-like to a rasping growl, you’d be easily forgiven for forgetting where you are or what in fact, you are doing. Who else writes songs in such a way as, ‘This night is blessed’ when presumably referring to an alcohol and narcotics fest and worse? Language like ‘So deeply and secretly’ rarely features in modern music and listening to the gorgeousness that is Limbo Panto, that my friend, is a damned shame.
‘The Club of Fathomless Love’ rips into your eardrums with a sense of haste and urgency, the title sung so beautifully that one may think this is possibly the best phrase ever coined in the English language. But as the song works on your soft earlobes, I can’t help but wonder if Wild Beasts are singing in English, or at least the English that we all know. It’s just that the nuances of lyrics such as, ‘I’m not a soft touch / And I won’t be seen as such’ are so deep and meaningful, they are not just words on a page. Hayden sings and the band plays with passion and life, meaning each word that is sung and each note that is played, to create a beautiful fusion of lovely otherworldliness.
Vocal duties are handed to bassist Tom Fleming for current single ‘The Devil’s Crayon’, with an introduction that eases the listener in for once as the musical accompaniment skips along delightfully. It’s heartening to know that Wild Beasts function as a unit and not four frontmen jostling for position, as with Fleming taking over vocals on this track, we are allowed to see another dimension of the band’s music. Fleming’s tenor voice is obviously deeper than Hayden’s and consequently words seem to be formed in a different fashion as his vocal flutters through the air.
The LP is in itself exactly as the press release says, ‘a collection of ten, beautiful, eccentric, very British tales’ and honestly, I’ve still not come back down to earth from the journey that I went on with Limbo Panto airlines. Ever since I saw the band at the Refectory, Hayden clucking his head like poultry of some kind, I knew that they were something special. But lo, they’re more than that. They are like nothing I have ever heard before in my life. Wild Beasts are revolutionary and I implore you to join them!