Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts

Present Tense

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(Domino)

Opening cut Wanderlust sets up the Cumbria-sired, London-based quartet's fourth album flawlessly. On paper, its phantasmic synths and relentless plastic beat might suggest clinical detachment, but in practice the ensuing record delivers a twin-handed pummelling of instinctive emotionalism and meticulous orchestration without once forgetting the melodic pulse without which Present Tense might ultimately prove toothless. Tonally, it's not as revolutionary as it might once have been - the number of synthpop-influenced groups swells by the week - yet few records this or any other year will leave your ears so ravished, penultimate track New Life meriting a special mention for its patina of Blue Nile-styled tristesse daubed with smears of filigreed guitar that drift to earth like spent fireworks. While Wild Beasts have hinted at mining the seam of painterly electronica that powers Present Tense, notably in Smother and Two Dancers, this feels like a conversion, an irreversible leap into the future, the making of a promise that can never be broken. Amen to that.

Sean Guthrie