Wild Beasts dominate yet another facet by incarnating their inner “Boy King”.
Note: This review was originally published in spanish at Indierocks, one of Mexico´s most popular online and print publications on alternative music. This is my translated version.
For a band that claims to have been formed to “be this kind of fey, effeminate art-band that was reacting to hyper-masculine aggressive rock gestures”, Wild Beasts’ fifth album “Boy King” seems like a step toward the latter type of postures. At least that´s the first impression one would get from the latest banging singles that the British band has shared prior to the official album release.
But it is worth noting that promotional singles can only tell you so much about the overall feel of an album. At a complete listen, one can still find traces of Wild Beasts´characteristic sensibilities in slow languid melodies and piano based beat-yourself-up ballads. Juxtaposed with the bravado of gigantic guitar riffs and synthesized bass lines that rumble your skull, Boy King seems to contain a narrative about being comfortable with two versions of one´s self.
In that sense it comes across almost as a conceptual album, one with an abstract yet palpable storyline. A little bit in the neighborhood of Currents or I Love You Honeybear. Lyrically, Boy King could be about that period between getting over a significant other and embracing casual lust and sporadic romances; all while trying to cope with feelings of loneliness and profound longing.
“Now I am all fucked up and I can´t stand up so I better suck it up like a tough guy would” wails second track “Tough Guy”; whose chorus could, oddly, belong to a Velvet Revolver song. A little bit later in the tracklist we find the epic and sensual “Get My Bang”. This could be the maximum incarnation of that inner “Boy King” we all have, if not for that little pearl of vulnerability on the bridge´s lyric: “why would you hold it back from me? If not now then when? If not you then who?”.
From there the record begins to oscillate between two contrasting moods, as if struggling to incorporate them into the same character. “2BU” is probably the most intimate and fragile one, with slow yet crescent beats that carry a melody that is almost too corny; were it not for the fact that the song is followed by funky tracks like “Ponytail” or “Eat Your Heart Out Adonis” that exude promiscuity and unapologetic lewdness.
Boy King maintains that delicate balance and concludes with the epic “Dreamliner”. A track of resolution and acceptance that sets a note in the key of what will sure continue being a prolific career for Wild Beasts. While incorporating more electronic elements than ever, and this time with bold production duties held by John Congleton (see Hold/Still and St. Vincent), Wild Beasts’ fifth album is a pleasurable and cathartic listen.