When Wild Beasts – one of the most original and inventive British guitar bands of the 00’s – split in 2017, frontman Hayden Thorpe embarked on a strange ritual. He wrote down the things he wanted to happen on a piece of paper, and buried it in the soil. He then wrote down the things he wanted to be free of on another sheet of paper, and burnt it. How do you move on from your past art when it shaped you so profoundly, and occurred only so recently?
Thorpe’s solo record Diviner, released earlier this year and the first solo release from any member of Wild Beasts, was described by Thorpe as “a self-help album”. It’s hopeful, about rediscovery, and often pulsates with a tender mysticism. Elegant piano, glistening synths and Thorpe’s peerless croon define an album that’s quieter in pace and tone than any of Wild Beasts’ work, but no less interesting, no less exhilarating. The thrill of desire was always strong in Wild Beasts’ work, and Diviner looks at more complicated questions of what happens after that desire, suggestive of the thoughts of someone in their 30’s moving into a different phase of life. “Don’t things get more wondrous and confusing as we go on?” asked Thorpe in a recent interview, and this is something of a motif on the record.
Quieter in pace and tone than any of Wild Beasts’ work, but no less interesting, no less exhilarating.
Originally, Thorpe had been dismissive of the nostalgia associated with Wild Beasts’ final performances – instead, he ended up finding himself moved and transformed by the experience. The track ‘In My Name’ deals with the questions around this and how to move forward as an artist – “I’ll keep your things safe” he sings, “but don’t come back in my name…don’t fly that flag in my name.”
“A world is waiting for us outside” he croons on the album’s title track. “No more hiding in plain sight.” An assured second act, and a highly recommended watch at YES this November.