Two Dancers is the second Wild Beasts album. Co-produced by the band and northern English enigma Richard Formby in remote Norfolk, UK earlier this year, it follows 2008’s widely celebrated debut Limbo, Panto. The result is a record of tightrope-high drama, put simply, Two Dancers finds the Wild Beasts on fire. Two Dancers is alive with its sense of possibility, a sound that shimmers and sways in the band’s own mercurial fashion. Sit back and listen with wonder at the thrill of it all.
Two Dancers inhabits its own landscape, as Tom Fleming says, it’s “a series of scenes… a big party, the street outside later on, or in a bedroom, or desperately hungry and starving to death on a distant beach.” The words “bedroom”, ‘”desperately” and “party” perfectly capture the energies at work in Two Dancers. Equal to the euphoria and sense of expectation is a feeling of helplessness. Hedonism can produce a long night of the soul that burns on wired emotions, and on what Fleming calls “meaningless lust”. The album’s lead single “Hooting And Howling”, from its title down, captures this perfectly. Consisting of a staring match between guitarist Benny Little and lead vocalist Hayden Thorpe, “Hooting and Howling” is equal parts statement of intent, and relentless eye contact from a priapic state of mind. As with rest of the album, it feels slightly delirious, having turned itself inside out and finding a state of unique musical grace.
Two Dancers is full of references to the following: booty calls, puckered lips, bodies as perfect machines, and dim-lit streets. Lyrically, Two Dancers, is equally energetic and ripe. In “All The King’s Men” Fleming sings with purposeful intent about “Girls from Rodean, girls from Shipley, from Hounslow, girls from Whitby” as Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto soars with palpable anticipation. In this song, as on the whole of the album, Wild Beasts dare you to cut loose and be seduced, but you’ll join in on the disorientation along the way.
The album’s shorter tracks, the two minutes of “Underbelly” and “When I’m Sleepy”, allow delicious moments for pause. “We were trying to come up with a way to describe it,” as Fleming puts it “and the nearest we got is erotic downbeat music.” Both are suggestive and abstract, capturing the fine art of feeling weird by shimmering in a twilight cadence. The band’s performances throughout are pure liquid energy. The needlepoint drama is a result of the band eschewing studio hyper gloss by playing together in the room - “recorded live, no over thinking” explains Thorpe. The sound and sensation of a band, to borrow the lyric of “This Is Our Lot”, “dancing late / like young reprobates”.
And Two Dancers is indeed a record made by real young men. As Thorpe, owner of one of the most wildly emotive falsettos observes, “It’s such a cliché to be perceived as being different. We’re seen as being outsiders, and that makes us close up the ranks even more.’’ In closing up the ranks Wild Beasts have made a record of earthly pleasures that sounds thrillingly widescreen, open and in awe of life; equally intoxicated and disturbed by the possibilities of pleasure.