Video: Wild Beasts – The Devil’s Palace

When Wild Beasts announced that they would be calling it a day, the news came with an unusual absence of drama. There were no bust-ups or breakdowns to report, no warring words, not even a trace of the trademark “creative differences”. Instead there was a dignified and heartfelt message to their fans that explained that the band had run its course.

For those who’d watched the Cumbrian group grow from purveyors of peculiar guitar pop into one of the most inventive and important bands of their generation, the news came as a shock. Weren’t they just hitting the peak of their powers? Perhaps that was the point.

“I think there’s a life cycle with any band,” says Hayden Thorpe. “It reaches a point where the snake begins to eat its tail. Our last album, ‘Boy King’, felt just like our first record in many ways – in its fuck you spirit, in its sense of self-destruction.”

Wild Beasts will play their final ever shows in February next year, and we bid the band a bittersweet farewell with Last Night All My Dreams Came True – a live studio album to be released on February 16 via Domino Documents.

Last Night All My Dreams Came True is a career-spanning collection and features songs from each of Wild Beasts’ studio albums with an emphasis on Boy King, their most direct record yet. Looking back on Wild Beasts’ back catalogue and the themes they tackled, there is a sense of prescience – toxic masculinity, gender fluidity, the conflicts surrounding class, politics and art were no bandwagon jumps, often becoming hot topics in the media several years after they’d been eloquently dealt with on record.

Today, the band have shared The Devil’s Palace, a rarely-played track that blends The Devil’s Crayon, from the quartet’s debut Limbo, Panto, and Palace, from 2014’s Present Tense. An exclusive for the record, it showcases the vocal interplay between Thorpe’s falsetto and Tom Fleming’s baritone perfectly.

Recorded in two days over the summer at RAK Studios, Last Night All My Dreams Came True is the second official Domino Documents release and has more than fulfilled the Domino Documents aim to capture a band at the height of their powers, recording a selection of their finest songs.

“It’s us as tight and slick as we ever have been,” adds Tom. “And it’s also us giving the fewest fucks we’ve ever given. There’s a sense of celebration and destructiveness combined, a sense that the fetters are off. Not that they were ever on … but that sense of limited time before you shuffle off is very much a motivator.”

And make no mistake; this is the last time Wild Beasts will be doing such things. This is no hiatus and there are no crafty eyes on a future reunion. “We get to leave our desk by our own accord,” concludes Hayden, “and that makes us very lucky. Whoever gets to do that?”

Wild Beasts new Domino Documents album Last Night All My Dreams Came True is due February 16. Pre-order here.

Anna Burch – Tea-Soaked Letter

Detroit’s Anna Burch will release her forthcoming debut album Quit The Curse on March 2 via Heavenly Recordings.

Though the deceptively complex pop of Quit The Curse marks the debut of Anna Burch, it’s anything but the green first steps of a fledgling new artist. The Detroit singer/songwriter has been visible for the better part of her years-long career singing in Frontier Ruckus, or more recently co-fronting Failed Flowers, but somewhere a vibrant collection of solo material slowly began taking form.

Growing up in Michigan, her fixation with music transitioned from a childhood of Disney and Carole King sing-alongs to more typically angsty teenage years spent covering Bright Eyes and Fiona Apple at open mic nights. By 18 she was deep into the lifestyle of the touring musician, juggling all the regular trials and changes of young life while on a schedule that would have her gone for months on end.

After a few whirlwind years of this, exhausted and feeling a little lost, she stepped away from music completely to attend grad school in Chicago. This respite lasted until 2014 when she moved to Detroit and found herself starting work in earnest on solo songs she’d been making casual demos of for a year or so. Friends had been encouraging her to dive into solo music, and one particularly enthusiastic friend, Chicago musician Paul Cherry, went so far as to assemble a band around scrappy phone demos to push for a fully realized album.

“Writing songs that I actually liked for the first time gave me a feeling of accomplishment,” Burch said, “Like, I can do this too! But working with other musicians and hearing the songs go from sad singer/songwriter tunes to arranged pop songs gave me this giddy confidence that I’d never felt before.”

The process was drawn out and various drafts and recordings came and went as the months passed. By now Anna was playing low key shows and d.i.y. tours solo and had released some early versions of a few songs on a split with fellow Detroit musician Stef Chura. Even at a slow, meticulous pace, with every step the album took closer to completion, it felt more serious and more real. After a more than a year of piecemeal recording sessions, Anna was introduced to engineer Collin Dupuis (Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen) who helped push things energetically home, mixing the already bright songs into a state of brilliant clarity.

The nine songs that comprise Quit The Curse come on sugary and upbeat, but their darker lyrical themes and serpentine song structures are tucked neatly into what seem at first just like uncommonly catchy tunes. Burch’s crystal clear vocal harmonies and gracefully crafted songs feel so warm and friendly that it’s easy to miss the lyrics about destructive relationships, daddy issues and substance abuse that cling like spiderwebs to the hooky melodies. The maddeningly absent lover being sung to in 2 Cool 2 Care, the crowded exhaustion of “With You Every Day” or even the grim, paranoid tale of scoring drugs in Asking 4 A Friend sometimes feel overshadowed by the shimmering sonics that envelop them.

“To me this album marks the end of an era of uncertainty. Writing songs about my emotional struggles helped me to work through some negative patterns in my personal life, while giving me the sense of creative agency I’d been searching for.”

Emerging from years spent as a supporting player, Quit The Curse stands as a liberation from feeling like Burch’s own songwriting voice was just out of reach — an opportunity, finally, for the world at large to hear what’s been on her mind for quite a while.