This album is unrelentingly cheerful. Which makes me go *finally* because Wolf has always been a master at the anthemic and uplifting. Even when the lyrics themselves aren't the most cheerful there's something soaring about his arrangements that make me happy. If I had one complaint about Wolf, then it's his tendency to pack anything and everything into an album. The Magic Position
and The Bachelor
both suffered for this. Sure, they had some cracking songs, and Overture from The Magic Position
remains a favourite of mine, but there were also, in my opinion, some monumentally guff songs included.
There's no denying that he's musically and lyrically very clever but over the past two albums I've felt that he's needed to strip it back and tone it down a bit. And he has, wonderfully. Up to this point, my favourite album has been Wind in the Wires
, a fabulous mix of traditional folk and the experimental stuff that I come to associate with Wolf. That album is by no means perfect either but I love it none the less.
Lupercalia is a different beast entirely when compared to his other releases. For one, it's positive lyrically on almost every track (he kisses him on Bermondsey Street and, standing brave on the balls of his feet, declares this the greatest love of the century), probably due to the fact he's engaged to be married to his partner (who gets a song named after him). This happiness completely saturates the album. And it's great. It's beautiful even. It makes a change from the utterly miserable, but no less brilliant, tone of The Bachelor
. It's an album that deserves to be played loudly, sung at the top of your lungs with a big smile on your face.
It's also an album that is unashamedly poppy. It's "grown up" pop with depth and character, not the soulless stuff that seems to get churned out all the time. The string arrangements, the pomp and extravagance, are still there but they complement the songs rather than overpower them. And if some fans are disgruntled by this, then tough, because I think Lupercalia will generate Wolf a lot of new fans; I know my own mother is finally understanding what I love about him. The fabulous songs that are just off the mainstream and the fact that you really don't know what sort of thing he'll release next.
Is it perfect? Nope, but it's darn near close to it. It surpasses Wind in the Wires
in my eyes, and it pains me slightly to say so as that is such a wonderful album and special to me, but Lupercalia is Patrick at the top of his game and, for me, there is unlikely to be a finer album released this year.