A crude art,
A bovver boot ballet —
Equally elegant and ugly.
I was as thrilled as I was appalled,
Courting him in fisticuffing waltz.
— Fleming, Little, Talbot, Thorpe, ‘Hooting & Howling’
In a 2014 interview with The Quietus, Hayden Thorpe, joint lead vocalist of seminal former Leeds-based band Wild Beasts offered the following thoughts on football and masculinity at the time: “I think what we are witnessing now is a modern version of hyper-masculinity, whereby a footballer is expected to be a gargantuan muscle-bound athlete, but one who plucks his eyebrows and dyes his hair. It’s an almost Roman version of masculinity, where warriors spit blood and wrestle tigers before passionately fucking one another.”
Throughout the decade and a half of the band’s existence, masculinity and how it can be expressed was their predominant creative theme. Exploring this through the prisms of sex, class, gender, geography, literature and relationships, they operated in the murky and blurry hinterland of what masculinity can mean; the perceived power to be a “giant for good or a giant for evil”, as Thorpe summarised.
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