Friday, July 1st, 2011

Wild Beasts – Albatross

Mildly misleading band name ahoy!


Alfred Soto: Smokey Robinson, playing a tremulous iteration of the feminine mystique, sings Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara.”

Katherine St Asaph: Entire minutes passed as I tried to figure out who the vocalist reminded me of — Austra’s Katie Stelmanis? A more quavery version of Louise from Society of Imaginary Friends? And then I realized Hayden Thorpe was a man. Impressive, as is the way this portions out its skittering beats and piano washes for maximum effect Easy beauty, but there’s never enough.

B Michael Payne: I’m usually not this much of an asshole, but I really should not have watched the video for “Albatross.” Hayden Thorpe looks exactly as he sounds, which is to say, kind of like a pillow that’s been cried into. I get that Wild Beasts are supposed to be kind of like Talk Talk 2.0, but, to be honest, Talk Talk never did it for me, either.

Jonathan Bogart: I was already not well disposed to the chiming swoopiness of the music, and then I saw the video. The one singing looks like my youth-pastor cousin, same facial hair and everything. Nice guy, but no rock star. And sure, that’s not in the least fair, but since the song doesn’t offer anything else to hook me, that’s all I have to associate with it.

Michaela Drapes: I feel vaguely used by this song, as if it were specifically built to push all my buttons. It’s like getting set up on a date with a guy with whom all your friends insist you have so much in common, but during the course of your first meeting you find out that he won’t eat spicy food, doesn’t like to travel, and hates cats. And then he keeps calling, even after you tell him you’re not interested in another date. “Albatross” is pretty much exactly like that.

Zach Lyon: Oy, they have good songs, you know? I guess I require hooks, and his voice is often a hook, at least when he employs his wonderful growly range. But if he’s just going to stick in this faux-dramatic, sleepy falsetto I see no reason to not just put on a Future Islands record instead — at least their Samuel T. Herring is reliably expressive and entertaining.

Iain Mew: This is rather slinky and the opening lines are almost enough to convinve me that Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto might work for something other than the dramatic derangement of their earlier stuff after all. Ultimately though, the song fails to take off anywhere from there, and there’s only so far unfocussed prettiness can get you.

Hazel Robinson: Having heard it was a total wet nindie, I’d expected not to like this, but was immediately struck by the pacing and the elegance of it. Even when weedyvoice singer started, it made me think more of some of the more sublime moments on JJ72’s debut; involving and evolving, that cascading piano and the occasional drop-into-deep-water splash of bass keep it tightly focussed. It kept me with it so much I was surprised when it stopped, suddenly jilted.

Jer Fairall: Lushly dramatic, with a genuinely impressive vocal melody that turns and swoops unexpectedly at several points, particularly when it plunges so fully and beautifully into the “I blame you” descent. Yet there is a kind of tasteful reserve to the singer’s performance that keeps me from embracing this as fully I should, like he’s working overtime at putting on his best Antony Hegarty rather than simply allowing himself (and us) to feel the song: keeping it at a cold distance when what is demanded is precisely the opposite.

5 Responses to “Wild Beasts – Albatross”

  1. At their best, Talk Talk were so different from anything we’ve ever covered here that it doesn’t even make sense to say that they were “better” than this stuff; it’s apples and quantum physics. But anyone comparing Wild Beasts (a perfectly good band, with some lovely songs and a singer who’s a damn sight better than the overrated Antony) to them is making a full-on category mistake.

  2. I never expected to see anyone else compare a band to JJ72 on here, nevermind in a positive way!

  3. Oh right, I meant to praise the JJ72 reference, too.

  4. It was just a comparison I’d seen people make to get me/people to like the band. A comparison that failed to obtain, since Talk Talk hasn’t really spoken to me. (rimshot)

  5. It’s a good thing I said “anyone” rather than “that dude, there, and no-one else,” then.