Here's the story.
A couple years ago, I learned how bad it was for you to use Q-tips in your ears. Which was a total bummer, because Q-tippin was basically my favorite past time. I heard that while wax may build up, it will eventually fall out. So, it was a little gross, but I reluctantly resigned to letting gravity to the dirty work.
Fast-forward to last Wednesday... I had a Q-tip relapse. I just had to get in there and relive the glory days. Well, I think I got a little too into it, because my ear became clogged with what I assumed was water and/or earwax. It was a little uncomfortable, and my hearing was a bit muffled, but after 30 minutes or so, my hearing cleared up and I went about my merry way. However, every morning afterward, I would wake up with the clogged ear. It would always clear, but it was kind of concerning. Sunday, however, I decided to go swimming. Game over. After I got out of the pool, I was clogged yet again, but this time it felt different. After a day, it began to hurt a little and I scheduled an appointment with a doctor for Tuesday afternoon.
While this was going on, I knew full well that one of my most anticipated albums of 2014 was to be released on the upcoming Tuesday. It totally sucked that I couldn't hear really well and my ear kinda hurt, but it was devastating to think about listening to Present Tense for the first time in my muffled state. Thankfully I had three new releases to keep me busy while I waited anxiously for my doctor's appointment.
It gets kinda gross from here, chaps. I go to the doctor, and three different nurses would look into my ears and be downright impressed with the amount of wax I had in there. Even the ear I could hear fully well from was apparently loaded. So, they cleared it out, and it was like I had cyborg ears implanted that enabled me to hear a butterfly flap its wings across the park. Apparently it had slowly built up to the point where I never noticed the decrease in hearing.
I go home and approached my headphones with a new reverence. I was going to listen to Present Tense, and it was going to blow... my... mind.
And it did, guys. This album has so many intricacies and details that are simply astounding. Every moment feels crafted, nothing feels accidental. I think every song has a juxtaposition between sustained tones and syncopated rhythms (I am not a music major and I may be using that term incorrectly). "Mecca" sees a unique drum pattern in competition with a piano riff, all sitting on top of floating synths and a choir of voices that sound like they are straight out of a boss level in a video game. "Sweet Spot" has sparkling guitars and ethereal "Oooohs" shifting between each audio channel, only to be interrupted by a stabbing synth riff that is so high in the mix that it actually made me gasp. In fact, this album has so many moments that caused my heart to leap into my throat that I feel bad spoiling this next surprise: the end of "Daughters" sounds exactly like the end of the world. It is harrowing, startling, and moved me in a way no music has in quite some time.
In true Wild Beasts' fashion, the final track is one of their best. But like every other song on here, it is too damn short! This album makes anything you play after it sound underwhelming, so get ready to play this one over and over again on into the spring, when the change of weather will likely bring along with it new emotions when listening.
I can't do an adequate job of explaining why this album is so astounding, I can only ask that you take 40:59 out of your life to sit and listen to this. Do nothing else, crank up the volume, and be thankful you can hear music of this caliber.
One thing is certain, I will never forget the first time I listened to Present Tense.