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Rockin' Our Turntable: Wild Beasts

By Veronica Murtagh in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 1, 2010 4:20PM

2010_01_WildBeasts.jpg Hayden Thorpe, vocalist for British quartet Wild Beasts shares like territory with Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) and Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons). Like Pallett and Hegarty, Thorpe possesses an immediately arresting vocal range that suggests classicism over pop/rock. The countertenor's dramatic baroque falsetto careens across ten tracks of gorgeous guitar-centric melodies on the Wild Beast's sophomore album, 2009's Two Dancers.

Wild Beasts' 2008 full-length debut, Limbo, Panto, was a strange journey marked by vocal braggadocio. Thorpe has come into his own since then, and issues a welcome control of his range across Two Dancers. Lyrics of suffering, longing and sometimes pleasure find the perfect theatric delivery by way of Thorpe's otherworldly notes. Guitarist Tom Fleming shares vocal duties on several tracks, and the juxtaposition of his Morrissey-esque tone against a galloping guitar beat and Thorpe's backing cries on All The King's Men results in Two Dancers' unexpected but definite high point.

Sophomore efforts as cohesive as Two Dancers come along once in a blue moon. Lush guitar flits between post-punk repetition and sweeping lullabies. Thorpe can draw a single word out for miles and the stylistic combination of the two ensure that one track flows liquidly into the next. From the impassioned guitar and piano of Hooting & Howling to the bright chorus and tribal drumming of We Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues, the Wild Beasts are as masterful with Two Dancers' instrumentation as its songwriting.

While it may take a couple listens to become comfortable with Thorpe's vocalizations, Two Dancers is worth your patience and effort, a testament to talent and uniqueness that will leave you floating dream-like and coming back for more.

Wild Beasts plays two shows with Still Life Still, Thursday, February 18, and Friday, February 19, at Schubas, 3159 N Southport, 9 p.m. Thursday, 10 p.m. Friday, both shows $13 advance, $15 at door, Thursday 18+, Friday 21+.