WILD BEASTS at Mod Club (722 College), Monday (August 9), 8 pm. $18.50. 416-870-8000.
Hayden Thorpe hasn't let reactions by the fawning UK press go to his head.
At 24, the singer for British gloom pop sensations Wild Beasts is humble and thoughtful when analyzing his band's upward trajectory, caused in part by their second full-length, Two Dancers (Domino), which was recently nominated for the Mercury Prize.
"I accept that our music isn't automatically likeable," he says over the phone from London. "We're not out to please the Everyman."
Comparable to other dazzling but downtrodden guitar bands like the Smiths and the National (Thorpe's smooth countertenor being the most obvious connection), Wild Beasts aren't aiming to write chart-toppers.
"A lot of music is made for functional purposes - to sell records - but ours is quite unguided in that sense. There's beauty in doing something pointless just for its own sake."
The four-piece's 2008 debut, Limbo, Panto, was also a hit with critics and served as an important learning experience for the band.
"Making our first album, we had no idea how we would be received, what bracket we would be put into, how people would interpret us. It quickly became clear that we would be seen as a left-field band that's not necessarily user-friendly all the time.
"Our first record is dense and complex because at the time it was us against the world. Once that statement was made, we could relax. We became more composed and less angry, which made for a happier, healthier [second] record."
Thorpe's unabashed vocal flourishes are one of the band's most challenging - and unique - features. Deciding to unleash his inner beast, he says, wasn't always easy.
"I spent a long time trying to sing in different ways out of sheer fear and embarrassment. It's far easier to construct a character for yourself and live through that character, especially when what you do is so public and picked apart.
"Just being yourself opens you up to vulnerability, but I feel so free and get such a release from singing uninhibitedly. In the end, I realized that honesty always carries well."
After this tour ends, the band plans to tuck itself into the Welsh countryside to work on album number three.
"We're from the country, so we're most comfortable when we're out in nature," Thorpe says. "It gives us a good feeling about our place in things."