Their earliest stuff had a freewheeling quality that made it seem like they were daring you to turn it off or keep listening to find out where they’d go next. First single “Brave Bulging Buyoyant Clairvoyants” from Limbo, Panto starts as this bouncy guitar jam until you hear the weirdest voice ever, like razors on chalkboard — that would be Thorpe’s dandified growl. That song used to be like a litmus test for me to see how much people would be willing to hear something that kind of smacks you around a bit and can’t sit nicely in the background.
“We were kind of small town boys really,” Fleming says of their early days. “It’s a bit of naiveté. We just thought people would get it.”
Things changed for 2009’s Two Dancers, which saw the band rein in the ruckus and focus on grooves and tunefulness. People took notice — the formerly renegade and challenging band suddenly appeared on year-end lists aplenty and got the band nominated for a Mercury Prize.
“It didn’t change a thing in terms of the music we’re making,” Fleming says. “But when you’re heading people like Mark Ronson saying they like Wild Beasts, it’s like, what on earth? When did this happen?”