Latitude 2009

This morning's new bands round-up, featuring Wild Beasts in the woods

John Mulvey

Down by the lake this morning, there's a large band dressed like bad mime artists in boho pierrot gear. At ten thirty, the flute and oboe players are making bird noises at each other from opposite banks of the lake.

By lunchtime, they've expanded into a big baroque ensemble - who'll have to remain nameless, I'm afraid - who sound rather like Anthony And The Johnsons. Tremendously precious, clearly, but quite a nice start to the day after all the jungle raving in the early hours.

The Strange Death Of Liberal England are substantially more raucous, though with a different set of pretensions. Very roughly, their schtick is yelped post-rock sea shanties, a very self-conscious and parochial but quite stirring response to the Arcade Fire and Godspeed You Black Emperor.

Occasionally, they turn into a more prosaic indie band, and I'm unfortunately reminded of something blustery and mediocre. It's worth noting, yoo, that the main guy really can't sing. Stil, not bad.

Next up on the Uncut Stage are Silversun Pickups, a highly drilled and precise cross between the Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer. It's a slick and probably lucrative hybrid (there's a lot of corporate hype surrounding them in the States, I think), but it's not really my thing.

Neither is the snatch of hugely proficient, mildly cosmic, distinctly Coldplayish stadium rock I hear from, I think, Sonic Flyer soon after at the Sunrise Arena. Fortunately, the band who follow them, Wild Beasts, are great.

From the Lake District, Wild Beasts specialise in lopsided, manic jangles that remind me of very early Postcard releases, especially those by Orange Juice. As they open with the fine recent single, "Through Dark Night", it strikes me they're one of those bands you'll either love or hate, due chiefly to the singer's fantastically mad voice - a yodelling, wayward falsetto that's a bit like Billy Mackenzie battling laryngitis.

God knows how long he'll be able to keep it up without totally ravaging his vocal chords. For now, though, you really should have a look at them.


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