Wild Beasts were winking at us when they gave us a song named “Albatross,” the slow-moving and slinky first single from the band’s third album. Hayden Thorpe’s impossibly pretty falsetto was there, as were the band’s hypnotic, looping drums, but something felt muted, missing. It made you worry for the rest of the record. Listening to all of Smother, those anxieties were valid, but the album works with (not in spite of) these changes. Smother is the subtler, shadowier cousin of Two Dancers, but the resemblance is there, especially when it comes to the sexual depravity that pervaded and perverted both of their previous albums. Look to sparse opener “Lion’s Share” (“I take you in my mouth like the lion takes his game”) for your first taste. Other songs explore this simpler composition style — a few piano/organ/synth notes, glassy pulsing, stumbling looped rhythm. “Reach A Bit Further” and “Loop The Loop” will remind you of Two Dancers, especially the interaction between the vocalists in the former (it’s one thing that’s painfully missing on the rest Smother). Thorpe and co-vocalist Tom Fleming ask you to let them watch you undress, to lie with them, die with them, or at least French for a while in the dirt. That they ask this time in whispers instead of shouts and screams makes it feel that much more sinister.
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