Sunday, September 14, 2008
Wild Beasts – Limbo Panto (2008)
One thing about Wild Beasts that will hit you immediately is their sense of Englishness. I’m not talking about that patriotic ‘Britain is great’ rubbish that the Libertines and countless of mid nineties Britpop bands used to spew out ad nauseum. What I mean here is ye olde eccentric English. The kind favoured by Monty Python or The Fast Show. Take a look at the album’s tracklisting ‘Veil for a Fuddy Duddy’ ‘She Purred. While I Grrred’ and ‘Cheerio Chaps. Cheerio Goodbye’
But Wild Beasts are far from a joke band. In fact at this point in time, their debut album ‘Limbo Panto’ could be one of the most interesting releases from a British band in the last few years. It’s an album with twists and turns at every possible moment. It’s an album that’s very frilly in it’s nature. If it was a person it would be a flamboyant transvestite who plays in the most lurid clubs imaginable.
However, before I start expounding on the positive aspects of ‘Limbo Panto’ I must clarify one thing and unfortunately it will determine if you will ‘get’ the album or not and that main factor is lead singer Hayden Thorpe’s voice.
This is a voice that is so high pitch that one wonders if Thorpe is some kind of eunuch but then it mutates into a throaty growl and these two extremes feature prominently throughout the album’s duration. Although there are times when his voice is not dissimilar to Antony Hegarty’s (of Antony and the Johnsons fame) For a lesser mortal though this is enough to drive someone insane.
If you are one of those who actually love Thrope’s voice then you are in for a treat. For ‘Limbo Panto’ has an oddball beauty that is so rare in British albums. These songs are anthems for a misfit generation. As I said before there is a certain type of exuberant flamboyance that cannot be ignored. Partly dramatic , partly rock, totally melodic and completely cliché free. Choruses don’t really exist in Wild Beasts world, neither do bridges or reprises but they get away with it. Clearly this band compromises of some very clever literate chaps with quite a turn of phrase. Puns and alliteration are scattered within ‘Limbo Panto’ and with each listen things become more clear. Probably the quintessential Wild Beasts song has got to be ‘Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants’ not only is it the highlight of the record but it sums up everything that makes ‘Limbo Panto’ a pleasure.
I firmly believe that music reflects a cultural situation. As one can see there is a lot of good music coming out of the U.S. at the moment, mainly because it is going through a critical phase and it’s musicians are releasing their creativity. In the U.K. most bands are presenting a hedonistic picture of the U.K. sure there’s dubstep, which is supposedly dark but there is a danceability that is infused.
So where does that leave Wild Beasts? The band represent the quirks and kinks in today’s society. Sure it may be a bit eccentric but Wild Beasts are also intense and there is a dark undertow to ‘Limbo Panto’ which is noticeable and I feel that the band are slyly telling us something about the future. If you think that the above paragraph is rubbish then let’s just sum up what I’ve been trying to say.
Limbo Panto is great when given a chance, so give it a chance.