Wild Beasts: Annoying You into Submission

Wild Beasts
Wild Beasts is one of those polarizing bands that, depending on who you ask, is either insufferably irritating or unequivocally brilliant. For me, learning to like Hayden Thorpe's operatic, somewhat Gothic warbling was sort of like learning to like IPAs: basically, you've just got to keep choking them down until you've brainwashed yourself into thinking you actually want your beer to taste like liquefied hops. Two Dancers puts me in a similar pickle. I really like craft beer, so I want to like IPAs. I really like Wild Beasts' inventive, adventurous compositions, so I want to like Thorpe's voice.

Alas, the over-saturation method only works with music. I still don't like most IPAs. But I think I'm beginning to appreciate, or at least tolerate, Thorpe's voice because I love everything else about his quirky band. In fact, his voice lends the music something of a Bowie-ish quality. As in, if anyone ever makes Labyrinth: The Next Generation,Two Dancers should be its soundtrack.

When most people listen to a band for the first time, the band's got one chance to impress. If the person in question doesn't like what they hear, chances are s/he will never give it a second go-round. The first time I heard the Decemberists, Colin Meloy's tendency to sing like a turn-of-the-20th-century newspaper hawker with a head cold nearly turned me off for good. Same with Joanna Newsom. But given a few spins and an open mind, I grew to like the unique character that voices like Newsom's or Meloy's lent to their music. Their voices may not be pretty in a conventional sense, but they are distinctive, and in a musical climate in which generic indie rock bands with generic frontfolk are so unbelievably numerous, it's nice to be able to hear a song on the radio, or on your shuffle, and recognize the artist immediately.

In short, I favor innovation over accessibility, and I'll take a Wild Beasts over a Kings of Leon any day. The band is playing Chop Suey this Valentine's Sunday, and I admit that Wild Beasts' music may not be easy to fall in love with. But if you're patient enough to ride the wave of irritation, you may just find yourself annoyed into falling for a band you might have otherwise written off.

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