Hayden Thorpe – Diviner

With repeated listens, true delights emerge.
Label: Domino
Released: 23rd May 2019
Rating: ★★★★

“Fear for us got me here / I’m not giving up on fear / I’m just giving up on us.” As frontman of Wild Beasts, Hayden Thorpe has spent the entirety of his young adult life exploring what it meant to be vulnerable, through delicate falsetto and lyrical challenges to the anthropology of man. For the first time, ‘Diviner’ sees him lose the armoury of his musical companions and step out under his own name, tackling the fear of a gang-less existence.

What results is something that at first surprises. Ten songs of delicate piano that rouses into other instruments very sparingly, it could be considered a tentative effort, lacking in the complexity of his previous work. But with repeated listens, the true delights emerge – the smattering of funk at the conclusion of ’Straight Lines’, the key change that drives ‘Earthly Needs’ and the humble momentum of ‘Love Crimes’, growing in its own self-assurance through a palindromic melody. And after all, who could deny that voice?

A man used to singing about love in the most romantic of ways, he ups the intimacy by turning to the mirror. Sitting at his childhood piano, he explores the boy he has left behind and the man he must become, having spent as many years as a musician as he has not. Born of such symmetry, ‘Diviner’ is a satisfyingly rounded effort, one thick with faith in the idea of a set path. He’s been brave enough to walk along it this far, and the rewards are proving plentiful.

Jenessa Williams

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