Patrick Wolf

2011, Hideout Recordings

Review by Fabio Rigamonti - Publish on: 16/06/11

We left English songwriter Patrick Wolf two years ago with the first half of a very ambitious concept entitled “The Battle”, I’m referring to “The Bachelor”, a record that surprised pretty much anyone thanks to its fantasy, bravery, energy and inspiration. We were waiting for Patrick’s second half of the work last year, but many things happened during 2010, and “The Conqueror”, in the shape that has been described by its writer many times, never came out. First of all, during this last year Patrick came back under the mighty wings of a Major label (Hideout Recordings is a holding of Mercury), which meant a total redefinition of its work known as “The Conqueror”, with a new development between Spain and New York; all this was meant to give birth to what we know today as “Lupercalia” (the fertility rite that happened in ancient times around St. Valentine’s day).

In its intentions, the work didn’t change that much: “Lupercalia” is still the opposite side of the desperate resignation that fills “The Bachelor”, showing an author full of love, very happy with his soul mate and truly serene in his new condition, and fully conquered by his love. It is very important to specify all those private matters regarding Patrick Wolf’s life, because what is waiting for you in “Lupercalia” is a journey through the brightest pop, a whiteness perfectly represented on the artwork of the record and that you’ll find in the opening of “The City” soon, where a typically ‘80s  rhythm from Abba is transformed irreverently by the saxophone, like the calypso that embraces naturally the orchestra with high transportation in the more contemplative “House”. Still we can’t help being enchanted by the harp that rules the joyful melody of “Bermondsey Street”, the same harp that leads trough the nocturnal and fairy-like waltz of “The Future”, or by the violins that paint the mid-tempo of “Time Of My Life” with intense and emotional colors, building up an arrangement by Fiona Brice that won’t make you sit by. Indeed, if there’s one thing that is for sure after the final “The Falcons” (made up by the same melody of “The City”, but with a total different approach and development), is Patrick’s exquisite taste for the composition, the supreme skill in the arrangements, the infinite class that spreads out from every single note of each song that makes up this fifth studio record.

However, what is the price that listeners have to pay for Patrick Wolf’s happiness? Well, first of all Patrick has lost his eclecticism: you have to forget about that unique mixture of industrial sounds, glam pop and folk music that he brought to life with the vibrant music of the previous “The Bachelor”, because now everything is more linear, easier…in one, single word: pop (Indeed, the pastiche of the delirious intermezzo “William” and the more electronic soul of “Together” still don’t count, because far away from the fascinating chaos that Patrick made us used to). Moreover, there is a certain cheesiness in the lyrics which is a new (negative) aspect in Wolf’s music.

However, if you think that this record is trite and excessively sweet, you are wrong, because there is so much attention to details and care in this work that makes it a very strong effort, capable to be a hard match for music genres that are considered  “higher” than pop music. “Lupercalia” is, simple as it is, a perfect record for a man naked in front of his serenity, and another step forward along the path of growing, both for the man and for the artist. So, after the dark of “Wind In The Wires” followed by the colors of “The Magic Position”, it is absolutely right that after the desperate resignation of “The Bachelor” follows the happiness of “Lupercalia”. You’ll come up with wondering what Patrick Wolf will bring us in the future, because you have this bothering feeling that this man can do almost anything always with great results.

And if you are looking for a record that can conciliate you with the world of music, you should know that with “Lupercalia” you’ll end up by making love with music.

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