It would be easy to overuse singer Hayden Thorpe's ebullient falsetto and dilute its campy majesty. Wild Beasts, a dreamy English quartet with a penchant for licentious lyrics and showy flourishes, know better. Their second album sees Thorpe trading lead vocals with bandmate Tom Fleming, a capable and compelling singer in his own right.
The pair contrast sharply, with Thorpe pushing the band into boundless, fanciful realms and Fleming favoring a more down-to-earth approach. Together, they make Two Dancers feel consistent and whole. Thorpe's "Underbelly" and "The Fun Powder Plot" are imbued with drama as he struts about searching for new ways to enunciate and color each syllable with his stunning countertenor.
He demands all the attention, but Wild Beasts are too good a band to be overwhelmed, and their chilly reserve holds its own against his ardency. Fleming's delivery is deep and solid on "All the King's Men" and "Two Dancers," even as he allows the intricacies of the music to seep through, with bell-like guitars glittering amid the racket of drums and piquant keyboards. Two Dancers is expressive without being effusive, polished without sounding stilted, and provocatively playful.