‘End Come Too Soon’? Something about the band reaching a ‘climax’ of sorts? All too easy I’m afraid, and to have pursued this line would have been thoroughly discourteous, given the dedication shown by the Wild Beasts themselves in thwarting our expectations and delivering an album as delicious as it is depraved, meticulous as it is monstrous and as lyrical as it is lugubrious (that’s ‘sad and melancholy’ for all those Facebook users out there). Unlike Crud though, ‘Smother’ does little to either qualify or explain itself, the Kendal band not so much flouting the mainstream as charmingly unaware of its existence. With ruffled cuffs and open chests, this foppish crew of unearthly misfits have all the luxurious decadence of Lord Byron and all the gentle weightless romance of Percy Bysshe Shelley. On ‘Two Dancers’ it was the mad, bad dangerous Byron element that won out. It was a waspish, quarrelsome beast, the sound of Oxbridge toffs spilling from taverns and creating the kind of rumpus more commonly associated with food fights and rib-tickling ‘funpowder’ plots. This time the impetus to move and amuse in equal – if slightly eccentric – measures – has given way to a comparatively understated record, the hooting and howling of its predecessor diminishing to a delightfully lunatic whisper, the soft electronic pulse emerging from the pretty yet stately ‘Lion’s Share’ providing the basis of an adventure that has more in common with the unruffled dream pop of 80s bands The Blue Nile and Talk Talk than with the lofty, giddy power-pomp of their debut.
In the simplest terms, ‘Smother’ is ostensibly the Wild Beast’s finest moment to date, with ‘End Come To Soon’ producing the kind of hopeless beauty one rarely recovers from. Not smothered but smitten. Don't miss out.