Wild Beasts – Present Tense
Wild Beasts' fourth album finds the Kendal quartet comfortable in their own skin, yet choosing to funnel that confidence into a development of their sound, rather than rest on their laurels. And what a sound it is: oxygenated by clean synths and carried by Chris Talbot's sentient percussion, Present Tense is an exercise in delivering impact through seemingly minimal means.
'Seemingly', because for all the record's block-colour electronics (Wanderlust, Sweet Spot) and tight lyrical vignettes (A Dog's Life), there is exquisite detail here, not least on Nature Boy, co-vocalist Tom Fleming's sinister show-stealer, in which his lupine baritone flexes and seizes above an interplay of piano, disgruntled frequencies and timid, tensile guitar. At points, you can almost taste the dust disturbed from the chalky skein of Talbot's hand drums. Hayden Thorpe's vocals, meanwhile, tend to be the gold to Fleming's coal – Mecca showcasing their aerial acrobatics to the fullest, album-closer and unabashed love song Palace giving them wings. [Lauren Strain]