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Review Mon Jul 21 2014
Late during Friday's Pitchfork aftershow, Wild Beasts conceded that all of their music falls into one of two categories: the kind you fuck to and the kind you fight to. The only thing about the comment that should have surprised fans was that it didn't end with "or both." Over four albums, Wild Beasts have never shied away from discussing sensuality and brutality. On this year's Present Tense, the music is a little lighter than the two previous albums, but the subject matter leans darker. Or is there nothing too off about smearing lipstick on someone and wiping away their drool?
Singers Hayden Thorpe and Tom Flemming don't quite give away which side of fuck-or-fight each song is on, but they do punctuate key lyrics live. ("Wanderlust"'s spiteful "Don't confuse me for someone who gives a fuck" and "Bed of Nails"'s "I would lie anywhere with you / Any old bed of nails would do" spring to mind.) Vocal interplay between Thorpe and Flemming, thumping bass lines and poppy synths dominated an hour-plus set that drew heavily from Present Tense but didn't ignore any of their albums, much to the audience's delight.
The juxtaposition of nearly ethereal music and haunting lyrics is nothing new. Wild Beasts just happen to be delivering it better than many others these days. And whether it's in near darkness at a club at 1:30 a.m. or in the sun at a festival at 2:30 p.m., they're getting their points across.