A more polished, cohesive second album might not have been expected from the Wild Beasts, but then again, their debut didn't exactly play by the rules either. Limbo, Panto was a particularly apt title for the band's first album: its songs were nearly as disjointed -- often fascinatingly so -- as they were theatrical. That can't be said of Two Dancers, which sounds far more inviting; it sighs and caresses where Limbo, Panto stomped and snarled. "The Fun Powder Plot" signals the Wild Beasts' big changes right away: guitars chime over intricate percussion and keyboards, and Hayden Thorpe's falsetto, once the most divisive instrument in the band's arsenal, is smooth instead of raging. The song is actually pretty, a word that rarely described Limbo, Panto's hyperactive cabaret experiments. The rest of Two Dancers follows the lead of its opening track, and at first, the band's more abrasive side is missed -- listeners almost expect to be bombarded with a challenge after the debut's stunts. Instead, the Wild Beasts' previously only hinted-at pop leanings come to the fore. "Hooting & Howling" manages to sound accessible and very little like any other bands at the same time (though Antony and the Johnsons and early Suede still feel like kindred spirits). Even the Wild Beasts' philosophy seems clearer here -- while Two Dancers isn't a concept album (though Thorpe described it as "a collection of scenes"), there is a definite arc in how the songs relate to each other. Desire and sensual pleasures fuel these stories about eating, dreaming, stealing, and carousing, from "All the King's Men"'s flirtations to the libertine exploits of "We Still Got the Taste Dancin' on Our Tongues," a spooky, spaghetti Western-tinged track with lyrics like "Trousers and blouses make excellent sheets." However, hedonism's violent side and its consequences aren't forgotten amidst all the romance, and the album gets darker and more brooding as it unfolds. With Two Dancers, the Wild Beasts move from fascinating to accomplished, and that they did so just over a year after releasing Limbo, Panto makes that achievement all the more impressive.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares