Where 2011’s Smother saw Wild Beasts strike the perfect balance between their flamboyant creativity and suggestive lyricism in early releases, this year’s Present Tense sees the band move away from organic instruments, turning to laptops and synthesisers, though retaining their trademark sensuality.
“Wanderlust” opens the album with a dark,eerie synth line, bringing to mind images of a hazy nightclub in the early hours, it’s sweating walls seen through a glut of rum and cokes, while Hayden Thorpe croons in with lines like “We’re decadent beyond our means” and “Wanderlust: it’s a feeling that I’ve come to trust.” Towards the end of the track, the song gently builds and breaks, eases off somewhat as the tempo marginally shifts. Thorpe then re-emerges, repeatedly stating “Don’t confuse me with someone who gives a fuck.”
The change in direction is developed throughout the rest of the record, with some familiar styles and techniques retained from earlier releases and fused with the new. While Present Tense may not stand up to the quality of Smother, it is still a solid release which further displays the band’s desire to evolve and not allow old ideas, however good, to grow stale.