Despite having seen a short performance during South By Southwest, Wild Beasts had me confounded from the start at Joe's Pub. Two vocalists, and I knew — on paper — that guitarist Hayden Thorpe sang the falsetto's and the bassist Tom Flemming was responsible for vocals in what you'd call the more normal register. But they kept switching instruments between songs, to the point where I wasn't sure if I'd previously worked out which parts were sung by one person and which were by the other, despite who was playing bass or guitar at any given time.
It was around that point that I decided it was dumb to try and figure it out (even though I think I'm straight now). Wild Beasts' magic is in the interplay between the four members, and it's best just to think of them as one slithering unit. Vocals exchange between Flemming and Thorpe like twins, and the guitar lines snake around one another, bass pulses and ebbs, while drummer Chris Talbot (the band's secret weapon) gives most songs a tribal feel — lots of toms, not so much cymbals. Nobody stood still for a second, Thorpe and Flemming swinging and swaying, hooting and howling. A bit more "rock" than the versions on new album Two Dancers (Talbot plays a little more four-on-the-floor live) but if it's subtleties are missing, it's made up in a mesmerizing group performance. Seriously good, bordering on great, if a bit short at an encore-less 45 minutes.
MP3: Wild Beasts – All the King's Men (buy it from Domino)
You've got two more chances to see Wild Beasts. Thursday (9/10) at Mercury Lounge and Friday (9/11) at Union Pool. I shot video of current single "All the King's Men" and though it looks like I pointed my camera at a TV monitor, I did not.