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Smother

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 10, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Wild Beasts release their third full length, entitled Smother. Their 2009 album Two Dancers was critically acclaimed and even earned them a nomination in the prestigious Mercury Awards. A year and a half later, Smother reveals a much more mature band. They've kept their distinct sound intact: oscillating falsetto and baritone vocals, lyrical wit, and a penchant for seedier topics. However, this album incorporates rich electronic textures and a subtlety of melody not heard in their earlier work. Wild Beasts fans will not be disappointed.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 10, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Domino
  • ASIN: B004QSQM72
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,379 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I must say, my expectations for "Smother," Wild Beasts' third album in merely three years, was pretty high. "Two Dancers" was such a triumph for the band. They had grown up so much since "Limbo, Panto," which was such a testosterone filled wet dream (albeit a good one!). "Two Dancers" seamlessly infused the band's love of lyrically sexual themes and creative dreamscapes. I still regard their sophomore effort to be one of the best and most significant albums of the past ten years! It simply changed my musical life. However, nothing prepared me for another shot at greatness. 'Smother' rendered me, well, smothered in the best sense one can possibly mean. I'm confident in saying this is album of the year material. Sorry PJ Harvey, you'll have to make some room. '

"Smother" is aptly titled. There are so many layers of rich and complex elements to this album, it's quite a challenge for one not to be overwhelmed by its sheer beauty. Hayden Thorpe's wildly popular falsetto is balanced by Tom Fleming's deep sensual croon. Each has their chance to shine, and at times they are playing off one another to dazzling effect ('Reach A Bit Further'). "Lion's Share" is a fantastic opener. A deep pulsing synth radiates as Thorpe's vocals creep in as if he's singing directly into your ear. Lion's share is an idiomatic expression meaning the lion takes all. So in natural Wild Beasts fashion, Thorpe is conquering his love, "I take you in my mouth like a lion takes his game."It's perhaps the band's first fully realized minimalist approach, and the results are striking. "Bed of Nails" is a dance song about doing anything for love like lying on a bed of nails.
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Format: Audio CD
My first exposure to Wild Beasts was with "Devil's Crayon," where Tom Fleming's beautiful baritone voice is most prominent. Then I watched the video for "Hooting & Howling" and was blown away with how original Hayden Thorpe's falsetto singing is. They truly have a unique sound, and "Smother" showcases their talents. Listening to these two very different voices is just magical stuff. Much has been made of the fact that this album is a little more somber and doesn't have all the explicit sexuality of their previous two efforts, but there's still that boldness here that draws on references to gay and/or straight lovemaking as metaphors for something more that's going on in the relationships. These are far from your standard love songs. There's a lot of synthesizer work here, but a video that shows Tom and Hayden doing an acoustic version of "Reach a Bit Further" on a Paris footbridge above passing cars, shows how awesome they sound even with nothing but a single guitar as accompaniment.

1. Lion's Share - 4:14 - Starts with a minimal synthesized beat and Hayden doing his wonderful vocal gymnastics, later the tempo builds and Tom provides gorgeous background vocal support. It's one of 2 songs on the album (the other being "Plaything") in which Hayden plays the part of the boastful lover, bragging about taking the lion's share of the relationship and of his lover's body. Elegant piano playing is mixed in with the synthesized sounds.

2. Bed of Nails - 4:18 - Hayden on lead vocal in this mid-tempo song. It's a pronouncement of a masochistic devotion to a lover ("I would lie anywhere with you, any bed of nails would do").
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
There does not seem to be much a following for the Wild Beasts in the US, but they have been delivering some very enjoyable CD's for the last couple years. Smother is another solid release. It lacks the giddy silliness of the previous efforts, but it just feels more mature and smooth as a result.

I have recommended this band to several friends and gotten very lack luster response. Honestly they take some listening to to. It took about half a dozen listens for me to realize how amazing Limbo Panto was. Two Dancers was a little bit more accessible, but that may have been because I was already sold on them. Smother comes right out of the gate with 10 solid tracks that are easier to get your ears around.

We had a nice, long, uninterrupted listen over a bottle of Malbec and it was an aurally pleasing experience.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this at a time when I bought a lot of truly great music. ExitMusic, the Kills, Divine Fits, a whole bunch more. Only listened to it here and there. Then recently I went to my Amazon Cloud Player and just pressed shuffle of my whole selections and landed on this in the middle a workout routine. Tonight I went back to my Amazon player and am listening and liking it a whole bunch. Reminding me of what? Hercules and Love Affair. Really good. I am getting two Dancers next week.
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Format: MP3 Music
This is the third album from the Kendal wonders, Wild Beasts, who are by far the best British band of the past three years. "Smother" is an album that is so different from its predecessor, the ostentation of "Two Dancers" is reigned in and the brazenness pulled back. Guitars are noticeable by their absence and in come elegant sweeping synths, combined with deep seductive melodies and sophisticated soundscapes. This album draws more on Talk Talk of the era of "New Grass" than it does the Smiths, which was "Two Dancers" primary source. Undoubtedly some will be completely alienated or find this a very slow burner that appears underwhelming with its lack of hedonism. Alternatively others who carefully listen will hear one of the most strikingly attractive albums produced by any rock band in recent times. At the core of this is the vocal partnership of Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming that has developed into one of music's great double acts. Thorpe's wonderfully contained falsetto reminds you on times of Anthony Hegarty but on "Smother" his performance is matched by Fleming's deeper and richer bass voice. Both sing on the sumptuous opener "Lion's share" which starts with a huge pulsating synth and Thorpe announcing, "I find you hid in mirrorville/creature of the deep/waifish as a widow/and without sufficient sleep". It is complimented by a rolling piano, all sorts of studio trickery and is an absolute sultry joy of a song. Next up is the most immediate and commercial song on the album "Bed of Nails" which could have appeared on Fever Ray's recent pop epic. Fleming takes the lead on the "Deeper" and it is one of the albums standouts with slow and refrained piece of minimalist funk.Read more ›
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