Earlier today with little fuss or fanfare, Wild Beasts called it a day. After making five exceptional albums together, and bringing countless slices of brilliance into being, the band have decided it’s “now time to leave this orbit”.
A little like The Maccabees - who broke up last year in similar circumstances - Wild Beasts have chosen to bow out at what could arguably be called a creative peak. Still riding the gaudy waves of 2016’s ‘Boy King’, few groups can claim to have the constant high-caliber output of this lot; from the Mercury Prize nominated ‘Two Dancers’ to the glimmering ‘Present Tense’ they’ve barely put a foot wrong. Wild Beasts know that more than anyone, too. “We’re care takers to something precious and don’t want to have it diminish as we move forwards in our lives,” they said in their farewell statement. Fair enough, really.
As the band’s Wikipedia page is slowly edited into the past tense (wahhhh!) and our collective sobs are mopped up by endless tissues, we’ve taken a look back, and picked out just a few Wild Beasts highlights. Thank you for the music, lads, and see you at those farewell shows.
‘This is Our Lot’
Few bands today (and certainly very few male indie bands) tackle masculinity with the deft poetry of Wild Beasts, and ‘This is Our Lot’ - from 2009’s break-out record ‘Two Dancers’ - painted the picture of a rabble of men on the pull in a whole new, tenderer light. In popular culture, they’re all puffed chests and proud egos - here, they’re holding each other up, and strangely lonely, too. “We’re all quiffed and cropped / This is our lot/ We hold each other up heavy with hops” sings Hayden Thorpe atop that album’s most uplifting washes of melody; recent trips to the barbers and the musk of hopeful aftershave hanging heavy in the air. Melancholy, syllable-manipulating reflection, and a slow-creeping belter all at the same time, necking lagers with the lads never sounded so profound. (El Hunt)
The band’s fifth (and final) LP ‘Boy King’ flipped the band’s previous relative timidness on its head, donning leather jackets and a significant swagger. As a parting gift from the band, ‘Boy King’ showed where they could’ve possibly gone across another decade, but much like The Maccabees who left us earlier this year, it saw them bow out at their most ambitious. ‘Alpha Female’ is possibly that album’s greatest moment, a shiny, leather-clad beast that almost immediately became a highlight of the band’s live set. Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming’s vocal interplay - the floating falsetto vs. booming baritone that defined the band’s sound - is at its very best towards the end of the track, fighting each other off and baring their teeth more than ever before. (Will Richards)
‘Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants’
From the off, Wild Beasts had a clear talent - introducing fancy, aurally pleasing words to people’s vocabulary. Their first ever single, 2008’s tongue-twisting ‘Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants’ got that mission off to a flying start, introducing words like moribund (which means: at the point of death, fyi) and the Classical Greek philosopher Aristotle to the surroundings of a disarmingly eccentric debut stomper. Besides the stylish pencil ‘tasche Hayden’s rocking in the video, the highlight here has to come from a particularly frantic verse where he forgoes any tunefulness in favour of growling and wobbling his entire lower face. And, as with all that Wild Beasts do, beneath the madcap whirlwind there’s a nagging hint of more serious foreboding: “life’s just a means to an end”. (EH)
Darlings of the indie scene and making steady progress across tour after tour with their first three albums, Wild Beasts’ real push forward came with 2014’s ‘Present Tense’, largely thanks to its gigantic opening track and first single ‘Wanderlust’. “Don’t confuse me with someone who gives a fuck,” Hayden Thorpe snarls, and it was the first window into Wild Beasts’ new world. A world, it turns out, that would take them to festival main stages and arena shows supporting The National. It was ‘Wanderlust’ that thrust the four-piece further towards a spot at the very peak of British indie, while serving as another brilliant progression. (WR)
‘The Devil’s Crayon’
Despite having a title that sounds like a euphemism for something slightly illicit (we’re looking at you, devil’s lettuce) ‘The Devil’s Crayon’ endures as one of the strongest moments from Wild Beasts’ debut album ‘Limbo, Panto’. Dabbling in humanity’s status as “moulded dough” fit for sin and glory (but mainly sin, it must be said) alike, bassist Tom Fleming steps up to vocal duties, here; the solemn, booming counterpoint to Hayden’s soaring falsetto. A dancing duet, this doesn’t quite lament our collective obsession with our own egos, so much as it slowly dissects it instead. (EH)
‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’
2014’s ‘Present Tense’ is packed with some of the band’s most vibrant moments, adding subtle new textures to their sound. ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’ shines, though, due to its allowance to let the band’s vocals shine. A floaty synth line floats on top of steady drumming, and showed that the band could be as affecting when they stripped things back, as well as when they add layer upon layer on top. Some of Hayden’s most gorgeous vocals yet peel back to let Tom croon the track’s title, and the two vocalists play off each other perfectly. (WR)
‘Get My Bang’
Beneath their literary lyrical craft, there’s always been one plain topic close to the core of Wild Beasts - sex. Doing away with ornate, theatrical drama, ‘Get My Bang’ didn’t exactly beat around the bush, so to speak; Hayden dancing questionably across the video with a sultry saunter and a leather jacket to match. With a hint of mickey-taking, lusty cries that date right back to the debut days collide with crisp synthesiser; an identity crisis meeting tongue-in-cheek sleaze. “No getting it right, no getting it wrong, just getting it on,” is quite the forward mantra, fitting for one of Wild Beasts’ boldest curveballs over their five albums. (EH)