Wild Beasts – Boy King
Wearing hearts, lungs and other vulnerable organs on their sleeves, Cumbrian artisans Wild Beasts turn their gaze to the male ego on their newest record.
Exhibit A, titles: Big Cat, Tough Guy, Eat Your Heart Out Adonis – even Boy King itself. Present Tense may have explored identity, but here the focus is patently gender. He The Colossus is a fearful, conflicted thing, helpless in its power ('Everything just dies in these hands'), while Alpha Female is a square-jawed, futurist groove on feminism, with Chris Talbot’s high-fidelity drums driving mounting, distorted synths.
In fact, this album’s rhythm section is its backbone, a cast-iron scaffold around which Hayden Thorpe’s floury vocal puffs and weaves. With our ears pressed up close to the warm, noisy machinery beneath, there’s a grounding firmness to each thud and frazzled, luminescent synthesiser chord. Certainly a contender for the most electronic of their canon, Boy King is perhaps also their most compact and claustrophobic release since 2011’s Smother. [George Sully]