Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review: Wild Beasts - Limbo, Panto (* * * *)

Limbo, Panto is the debut album English art-rockers Wild Beasts. Their distinctive, flamboyant personality came, according to singer Hayden Thorpe, "out of a boredom and lack of interest in beer and testosterone rock. It concentrated us like a fruit." Like a fruit? However you describe it, their uniquely over-the-top sound, topped with Thorpe's theatrical falsetto vocals makes them a noteworthy and exciting new addition to the indie scene.

About ten seconds into Limbo, Panto's opening track, "Vigil For A Fuddy Duddy," you'll know you're in for quite a ride. Thorpe croons, howls, and yelps over the intricate guitar/bass arrangements and tasteful percussion which, throughout the album, always leave the vocals front and center. His voice might take some getting used to, but it's the most powerful and unique weapon in the group's arsenal. On many of the album's ten tracks bassist Tom Flemming provides smooth tenor harmonies that compliment Thorpe perfectly, though occasionally Flemming takes over on lead vocal duties, most notably "The Devil's Crayon" which is one of the album's best. His pleasant, even voice is a welcome element of normalcy in the midst of so much strangeness.

Wild Beast's music includes bits of seventies funk, eighties alternative, and plenty of classic pop melodies, often mashed together in the same track with shifting time signatures and tempos. Fortunately, the band prefer to stick to their basic guitar/bass/drums (and occasional piano) lineup instead of embellishing their music with string and horn arrangements, a wise choice that keeps the album focused and easier to digest. Beside the two tracks previously mentioned, highlights include the first single "Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants" and the melancholy closer "Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye."

Unexpected, surprising, and ambitious, Limbo, Panto is a rock album without equal and what looks to be the beginning of great things for Wild Beasts.

Wild Beast's MySpace


Kickcity903 said...

o wow. only heard two tracks on myspace and i'm loving it so far.

Chris N said...

I'm glad you like it. These guys definitely deserve some attention in the States.