Wild Beasts - Punk Drunk & Trembling

by David Bruggink Rating:8 Release Date:2017-10-20
Wild Beasts - Punk Drunk & Trembling
Wild Beasts - Punk Drunk & Trembling

A few weeks ago, I was surprised and dismayed to see the news that one of my favorite working bands, Wild Beasts, was calling it quits. In a news cycle filled with daily cataclysms it may have seemed but a tiny blip, but it's nevertheless quite a sad turn of events to know that one of the most consistently talented purveyors of art to a disaffected generation of twenty and thirty-somethings will do so no longer. 

Still, it strikes me as a move of uncommon integrity. Most bands decide to stick together even as the creative juices, and any self awareness (if they had much to begin with), are drained, and churn out albums that are increasingly out of touch, over-produced, and under-considered. Wild Beasts are going out on a high note, having left us with five albums, all of them of very good to excellent quality, and I, for one, will hold out hope that their members' future endeavours will be similarly successful.

Punk Drunk & Trembling, their final three-song EP, is neither a bang nor a whimper; rather, it's a bittersweet slice of what our beloved Beast-y boys do best. The title track has an upbeat funkiness that recalls the carefree moments of Two Dancers, yet there's an aloof confidence to it that reflects that band's continued evolution. Listeners will note that its distorted guitars have more in common with their most recent album, Boy King, than the elegant, clean lines of their earlier work, yet the track has a buoyancy that was often missing on that album. 'Last Night All My Dreams Came True' splits the difference between the tongue-in-cheek, slinking lasciviousness of Boy King and the atmospheric earnestness of Present Tense, with its almost comically loping synth line and funky guitars that give way to affecting lyrics and vocal performances. The final track, 'Maze,' brings to mind the slow-building songs that Wild Beasts have gradually perfected, like 'New Life.' It closes this all-too-short collection on a somber, emotional note, as lush beds of synths and distorted pads build to a moving climax. For a band often trading in clever double entendres and metaphorical sleights of hand, the lyrics are refreshingly straightforward: "I've been all around, and I have looked for a kind of love that's nowhere to be found." For their many fans, Wild Beasts were a "caretaker of something precious," as they wrote in their farewell letter, of a bright love that's rarely encountered, and we'll miss them dearly.

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