Wild Beasts have never been obvious. In 2008, Limbo, Panto unveiled Hayden Thorpe's extraordinary countertenor and songs with titles such as Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants were never likely to trouble Radio 1. The follow-up, Two Dancers, managed to receive a Mercury nomination, even with its operatic-graphic descriptions of "dancing cocks". Their third album ditches their old Associates/Roxy/Sparks guitar sound in favour of rolling grooves of electronica and percussion more akin to Antony and the Johnsons gone Talk Talk. Smother isn't immediate, but gradually emerges to be a thing of extraordinary beauty, containing dreamlike adventures of lust and longing. Thorpe remains risque – there are lines such as "I take you in my mouth like a lion takes his prey" and "Take off your chemise, I'll do as I please" – but mostly the sexuality is understated. The smouldering tension in closer End Come Too Soon (about premature ejaculation, presumably) is unbearable, but stunning. Smother isn't conventional chart material, but will make their burgeoning cult impossible to ignore.
Wild Beasts: Smother – review
Dave Simpson is a Guardian music critic and author