Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

Wild Beasts create a rich, darker effort with Two Dancers

Wild Beasts, a British band signed to Domino, has been getting a lot of buzz lately about its recent album Two Dancers, especially for its two singers’ distinctive and trained voices: Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto and Tom Fleming’s tenor. They played a show at the Great Scott in Allston last night, and The MUSE had the chance to ask the drummer, Chris Talbot, a few questions via email.
The MUSE: Who are some of your influences? Are there any artists that all four of you draw from?
Chris Talbot: We have not followed a model crafted by a previous artist but it is, of course, natural to allow different aspects of music to rub off on you. When we were old enough to get into music, Britpop was dying its death, but we caught the tail end of the Blur/Oasis battle, with a bit of Pulp thrown into the mix. Circa Limbo, Panto [our debut album], we were certainly universally appreciative of The Smiths, Jeff Buckley and Marvin Gaye. We listened to a lot of Junior Boys on tour and certainly the dancey and darker tonal elements influenced us when making Two Dancers.
TM: Two Dancers sounds more produced and seems to have more layers. Did you have more instruments at your disposal or maybe just more layers?
CT: I’d say it was a bit of both. We didn’t have a vastly different instrument setup, but we did have more toys at our disposal. While the core of the record is very much the standard “white boys with guitars, drums and keys,” we wanted to focus on underlying textures across the music. Our co-producer, Richard Formby, is a great manipulator of sounds and what he doesn’t know about sonics isn’t worth knowing. We also had a few happy accidents when recording &- some songs weren’t fully formed when we started, which made for an exciting and experimental environment.
TM: The new album has a darker tone, while Limbo, Panto was more playful. Are there any reasons for this particular shift?
CT: Limbo, Panto was essentially a “best of” of the four or five years leading up to us actually getting to record it. So in that sense, it suffered from not having a specific vision, but that seems to us to be more one of its charms than foibles. So Two Dancers is very much a deliberate piece in itself, as this was a record we actually sat down to make. As for it being darker, we perhaps hadn’t had the best of years leading up to that recording so that, perhaps, was a natural expression of our situation at the time.
TM: Your live performances sometimes include versions of songs with parts not found on the recorded versions. How do these tweaked arrangements come about?
CT: The best thing about playing live is that there are no rules. While we tend not to stray too far from the structure we have created on the record, there is scope for pace, feel and instrument to change &- if not for our own benefit, but for the audience as well.
Wild Beasts are touring throughout much of the U.S. and Europe during this spring and summer, including some festival dates in Rome and Barcelona.
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