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100 Albums: "Boy King" by Wild Beasts


Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Wild Beasts
Title: Boy King
Released: 2016
Genre: dreamwave art pop


We're following up The History Of Apple Pie with Wild Beasts, so welcome to English Synthwave week.

Boy King by Wild Beasts is one of those albums where I can never remember which is the band name and which is the album name. They're an English synthwave band who are rocking that 80s nostalgia sheen super hard. Boy King is the band's most successful album and also the last full-length album they recorded before breaking up in early 2018 to pursue solo projects.

The music is all compressed drums with sawtooth synth pads slathered with delay. Every now and then a guitar line wanders in and plinks out a few notes, as if unsure if it's supposed to be there or not. The sound is big and atmospheric and bright and danceable and vaguely dark and creepy. It's like someone watched the trailer for The Neon Demon and said "I want to record and album that sounds exactly like that movie looks." Big Cat is the main attraction here, kicking off the album. Of all the tracks, it's the most memorable, although Alpha Female is pretty close behind it. Celestial Creatures has a nice unsettling urgency to it, and the closer Dreamliner is just a fantastic downer of a song--in a good way, I mean. Everything else is fine. The only downside is 2BU which possibly has a different singer on it and just feels a bit out of place.

Another band that split right as they were starting to get their footing, it seems. Although... something tells me the dreamwave aesthetic (the very 80s-specific subgenre of synthwave) is going to end up having been short-lived, so maybe it's for the best.

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