Much has been made of Wanderlust, the song that opens Wild Beasts' fourth album, and its vicious disdain for the musical peers who have become Americanised: "In your mother tongue, what's the verb 'to suck'?" spits Hayden Thorpe, coming as close to a snarl as that soft falsetto possibly can. At first the intention seems plain: as on their previous three albums, there is no pretence of fitting in. Wild Beasts revel in their idiosyncrasies; you can hear it in the duelling vocals and choral layers, the words that shouldn't fit, the tunes that veer off in unexpected directions. What's new here is that they have tempered and honed those flourishes. It's modest in its experiments, never forgoing an accessible ear for the sake of being difficult. Sweet Spot is typically ugly-beautiful, its crystalline vocals splattered with a thick 80s synth, while Nature Boy rumbles with delicious spite and menace: "Your only joy, your only bliss, your lady wife around his lips". Present Tense shows that their confidence has grown to match their ambition, and it is plainly their best album yet.
Wild Beasts: Present Tense – review
Rebecca Nicholson is a columnist for the Observer and the Guardian