Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Warm Up: Wild Beasts - "Smother", The Music of the Moors

There's definitely a feel of the moors about this music. Not the marauding north African Othello types, you understand; but those windswept ones that you get in books. The moors with those scowling, moth-black clouds that the rain sweeps down from. Those moors with the wind-bent trees and the hint of real animals, even if they're only rabbits and the like nowadays.
The strongest whiff this music gives off is Kate Bush - all "Cloudbursting" and "Wuthering Heights" - powerful dyed-in-the-woad British music that you almost imagine being carried across the wind in neolithic times. (Or at least you do if you're limited in the imagination like I am.) Tiny creatures with dark musical impulses beating sharply under their fur.

There are touches of Elbow as well. Especially in the delivery of the vocals - "Burning" in particular. Another Moors band, capturing the chinks of sunlight crackling through the clouds to anthemic effect. It's stupid to describe this as Northern music, but I can't help myself. It's babbling brooks and slippery rocks and racing clouds in a way that wouldn't quite make sense anywhere else - not even Wales or Scotland.

"Two Dancers" had left me in two minds a little bit. I thought the vocals were a bit too dramatic, a bit too arch. This is rawer. There's a dark emotional neon in the middle of this, maybe a bit like The Arcade Fire. But with a kagool and a bird-spotting handbook and the occasional weezy keyboard. Powered by the hot soup running through the middle.

And when it stretches its legs on "Bed of Nails" (in an almost Joshua Tree fashion) it really opens up its lungs and leaves me standing with my ears gasping for breath.

Rating: Otter out of 12

PS I decided the other day I was getting so off base with new music at the moment, sitting in my car listening to C90s of The Jungle Brothers and The Doors, that I would listen to 500 new albums across the course of 2012. (Mayan Apocalypse allowing.) I then thought I might record my impressions as I was listening on the auld, neglected blog. Purely for my own damp satisfaction. So I thought I should try and get the habit started now. And rewarding it has been. More to come....

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