Wild Beasts have never made music that can be categorised as sensual. Boy King, if anything, gives the hall pass for us to file it under that from now on. “Big cat, top of the food chain” the album opens with as if they immediately know that their fifth record is going to give them some kind of reign.
It’s the lo-fi, grizzly tone that holds the opening songs, ‘Big Cat’ and ‘Tough Guy’, together like something even stronger than cement. Drawing a much bigger statement than their debut, the music rips through Hayden’s quivering falsetto vocals and heists the limelight from ‘Present Tense’ before revealing a long queue of songs which hold lyrics that would qualify for any pop song, but soon become too dark and unpleasant for that. “Alpha female, I’ll be right behind you,” the voices continue on the third track, generating an apprehensive feeling that almost reflects upon the peeping tom scenario.
Instantaneously, the collection of songs plays out as a situation that gets you all hot and bothered via darkening synth tones and glitchy guitar chords, complete with melodic, extraordinary moments that prompt feelings that seem like out of body experiences. Glueing the album together, these stand out moments provide the evidence that allow us to acknowledge that Wild Beasts are informally introducing us to a whole new set of characters who have gained a newfound confidence which prevails. It may be a lot more appealing to people; with sections that reveal similarities to the likes of Muse and Metronomy.
The intensity, that sits carefully over the whole body of works, switches to serious engagement with the production on Boy King. It adds a remorseless, clandestine tone to the likes of ‘He The Colossus’, which embarks on a gargantuan journey of egotistical musical ability – playing around with what their toys can do, the pitch, and pace. As the record begins to close, things appear to take a more subtle, stripped back approach. Whilst the feel of the music can still be pretty heavy, it unveils Wild Beasts without the armour and weapons.