"Don't confuse me with someone who gives a f--k," Wild Beasts singer Hayden Thorpe intones in a sweet and menacing falsetto on "Wanderlust," the first track off his band's new album, Present Tense. It's clear, though, that this art-rock four-piece from Kendal, England, cares quite a lot about putting out a meticulously crafted album loaded with intellectual and emotional weight.
Present Tense is a unique exercise in contrasts. Over new wave synths, Thorpe's voice is at once foreboding and breathlessly sexual, while vocalist Tom Fleming growls with a deep longing that could be mistaken for brutality. The whole album "roams a landscape that couldn't have been charted by anyone else," said Ben Hewitt at NME.
Singer Hayden Thorpe spoke to The Week via email about Seal's disciples, pre-show rituals, and songs that get even better with alcohol. Below, six of his current favorite tracks.
1. East India Youth, "Heaven, How Long"
"I love [singer William Doyle]'s musical sensibilities. He makes dance music off the grid, with a songwriterly craft that's pretty rare to electronica. The harmonies on this track remind me of the Backstreet Boys, but I mean that in a very complimentary way, if such a thing is possible."
2. Drake, "Hold On, We're Going Home"
"This is a track that is made up of so little, yet everything is so perfectly formed that it requires nothing more. I think about the line 'you're a good girl and you know it' quite a lot; the way it is delivered and what it suggests. It's deft. We listen to this before going onstage, it's become a weird ritual. It's one of those songs that gets better the drunker you get."
3. Rihanna, "Stay"
"This song knocked me out when I first heard it. It's beautifully written by Justin Parker, whose songs somehow manage to cut through the big buck and still deliver an emotional punch. It made perfect sense for Patti Smith to do a cover of this, since it occupies that elusive happy/sad space she lives and breathes in."
4. Kwabs, "Wrong or Right"
Firstly, Kwabs' voice is insane. I'm excited for what may come from him. I've heard him described as the new Seal, and my love for the old one means I was always going to dig this. The synths are fearsome also."
5. Massive Attack, "Angel"
"Money, the support band on our current European tour, sound out the PA system with this track. It's only when you hear it at thunderous volumes that you realize quite what a remarkable piece of work it is. It's so beautifully crafted that you get the most fragile details along with this gut churning force all at once. It's masterful."
6. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "We No Who U R"
"I just find this song really moving. It's almost as if the years of blood, sweat, and tears have given him the ability to do strange poetic songs like this one so expertly. I love the sense of threat in his music, that something's always a little broken."
Present Tense is out now on Domino.
(This interview was condensed and edited by Samantha Rollins.)
Watch the video for "Wanderlust" below:
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