Indie rock is too often subdued, a repressed progression of the same old familiar unusual instruments, distinctive croaks and lyrics, refreshed versions of the same thing. It's so rare to hear anything that truly startles a listener into full attention, eyes wide in delighted surprise, a pulsing vitality and variety in a melody, a voice. But UK indie rock group Wild Beasts's sophomore album, Two Dancers does just that. In majestic metallics and moments of unexpected tenderness, in arcs of falsetto over fluid instruments that linger, Wild Beasts have created a record worthwhile not just of a momentary note, but one that might well last, to be cherished from start to finish.
"The Fun Power Plot" opens the signature shifting liquid melodies of the rest of the album, a built up to the introduction of singer Hayden Thrope's distinctive voice, a marvelous accompaniment to the the flickering guitars and the textured release near its end. "All The King's Men" is a riveting anthem, a song full of discovery after every voices echoed line, breaths and rushes of stories in its pulse.
Wild Beasts tame their grand tendencies "When I'm Sleepy," instruments whispering a silken lullaby in tones that hint at something darker. "We Still Got the Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues" flutters with a haunting, moving opening. The mesmerizing melody pushes into a chorus, what's so wrong with just a little fun, a teasing journey that's temptation dancing in song? Then, the title track, a two part opus, with the first part's trembling urgency in plucked guitars, a fastened verse that pushes toward the clean, ringing echoes of the chorus, and Hayden's lyrics a threat, a promise, "do you want my bones between your teeth?" "Two Dancers (II)" is a quieter affair, a delicate echo of its predecessor, stripped to vulnerability, pressure on ethereal lines that glitter like a black river on a moonlit night.
These same themes and tones travel through the calls of "This Is Our Lot," reassurances of heavy friendships and dark paths. The sinister coos of "Underbelly" and its vulnerability, spikes of emotions and senses that linger, trickle to its crystal end. "Empty Nest" ends the album in layered reminders of "gone." But the songs and atmospheres evoked from this album certainly won't be, long after a first (or fourth or fifth) listen. -Laura Yan