Wild Beasts couldn’t be from anywhere else but Britain. You only have to listen to a few notes of their music to realise as much.
The places they namecheck in their lyrics and the eclectic nature of their songs give them away.
Few bands would mention the towns of Rodean, Shipley, Hounslow and Whitby in a whole career, let alone in one song, as Wild Beasts did in their breakthrough single ‘All The King’s Men’.
The accent with which singers Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming deliver those lyrics is defiantly English, too. In a musical landscape increasingly populated by mid-Atlantic twangs, no matter the origin of the singer, the Kendal band stand out now even more than they did when they released their debut album ‘Limbo, Panto’, back in 2008.
It shouldn’t be such a big deal, but what started out for the four-piece (who are all in their late 20s) as merely the way they did things has, as their career’s progressed, become something of a talking point. ‘Wanderlust’, the first single from their new album ‘Present Tense’, even deals with the subject.
“In your mother tongue, what’s the verb ‘To suck’?” sings Thorpe. Expanding on the issue with American music website Pitchfork, he said it was very much aimed at British bands singing with American accents: “As in, ‘How can you sing with sincerity if you’re not singing in your own tongue?’”
Of course, in light of Alex Turner’s apparent switch from broad Sheffield accent to Elvis-esque drawl, Thorpe’s comments were perceived as a slight against the Arctic Monkeys frontman, but Wild Beasts have since clarified that they didn’t have Turner in mind.
The fact that the two bands share a record label, Domino, and that Arctic Monkeys’ defiantly regional accents have been as lauded as highly as Wild Beasts’, suggests they’re telling the truth.
Picking up the subject again today, Fleming, the band’s second singer, bass player and most intense member, says Wild Beasts sticking firm with their nationality works for and against them, depending on where they are.
“In some quarters, what we do is lost in translation, I think,” he says, perched on the end of an armchair in the offices of their record label. He adds that in some countries, the band are likened to synth rock giants Depeche Mode - a band with whom they have virtually nothing in common - simply because audiences don’t ‘get’ them. “But, saying that, when people do like what we do, as they do in some cities in the US, they will travel huge distances to see us,” he adds.