I stumbled upon Wild Beasts’s latest album last week on Tidal. However, the group has been making music for the past 10 years. Boy King, their fifth studio LP, detours from their indie rock roots. The group’s new album focuses on defying conventional notions of male stereotypes. “Big Cat”, for instance, has a quirky music video and lyrics that caution. “It takes all of me baby/Being the big cat/But I’m ok with that”. The funky “Tough Guy” follows in a similar vein (“I better suck it up/Like a tough guy would”). That song has a heavily synthesized sound reminiscent of the 80s.
Wild Beasts opt for a heavier electronic sound on Boy King; a departure from previous works. Their detoured musical path actually suits them well. Furthermore, the trippy “Alpha Female” takes their stand against modern masculinity to an even higher level. They sing “Alpha Female, I’m right behind you”. “Celestial Creatures” is one of the most lyrically dense songs on the album. The song speaks of “handsome women” and keeping your guts from spilling out. So, I know what you’re thinking. These guys sound morbid. The group’s message of questioning society’s acceptable ideals of masculine behavior is believable. Their stance ironically comes with a dominant presence though.
Wild Beasts flip traditional gender roles on “He The Colossus”. They are perfectly fine being the prey here (“You could have me any time/Just flirt those come-to-bed eyes”). I couldn’t listen to Boy King every day though. “Dreamliner” is somber mood music, with deep waters. The song is actually a great closer to the album.
“Boy King Trash” is a 20 plus minute track that serves as a gritty behind the scenes tour of the album. The messy unfinished vocals and unpolished tracks sum up the beauty of this album. Boy King is conveyed as a cohesive social experiment that never quite gets resolved. Wild Beasts should be applauded. They successfully pulled off an album that is just as intriguing as it is conscious.