It’s always fun when one of your favorite artists has news regarding a new album. It’s even better when a track from the album is revealed alongside that news. That’s precisely what English four-piece Wild Beasts did last week, when they announced that their fourth LP, Present Tense, will be released on February 24th via Domino. On top of that, they released the video for the album’s opening track “Wanderlust”, a moody gem that rides on a driving bass before wispy synths and Hayden Thorpe’s vibrating croon introduce a gorgeous, ethereal side. The follow-up to 2011’s excellent Smother, Present Tense was co-produced by Lexxx and Leo Abrahams (a Brian Eno collaborator). Two Dancers remains my favorite Wild Beasts album, and has been since 2009, but Wild Beasts have never released anything lackluster. And judging by the quality of “Wanderlust”, that trend is unlikely to change.
The video for “Wanderlust”, as can be seen above, is an interesting one starring the thief, the good lady, the quarterback, and the girl. No, it’s not some NBC drama; the emotions conveyed throughout these five minutes tend to feel more authentic. “Wanderlust, with us the world feels voluptuous,” Thorpe quivers during the gripping chorus, which eventually transitions into a starker moment of beauty, where Thorpe warns not to confuse him “with someone who gives a fuck.” Wild Beasts’ delivery suggests grand, darkly enveloping emotion over elegant nonchalance, but – then again – jagged uses of contrast are another one of Wild Beasts’ many strengths.
Thorpe elaborated on the meaning of “Wanderlust” in a Pitchfork interview. “It’s very much about British class: In reality, it’s become a similar life choice to be in the arts and to make music as it is to be a politician or banker at this point,” he explained. “People who don’t have to worry about money want to obtain what money can’t buy—things like artistic instinct or taste—and the song is about those who want to desperately buy a position within the arts, yet their heart’s not there.”
Wild Beasts – Present Tense track listing:
02 Nature Boy
04 Sweet Spot
06 Pregnant Pause
07 A Simple Beautiful Truth
08 A Dog’s Life
09 Past Perfect
10 New Life