Standing at 6 feet 4" tall with a shock of bright red hair, 23 year old Patrick Wolf is something of a statement even before he opens his mouth. His two albums to date 2003's Lycanthropy
and 2005's Wind in the Wires
have showed him to be more than a pretty face, however, with songs that strike an attractive balance between the imaginative and the indulgent. His third album, The Magic Position
, is undoubtedly Wolf's 'pop' moment. The rollicking romp of "Get Lost", the upbeat "Accident and Emergency," and the celebratory title track all underline new levels of accessibility and dare we say it - optimism. There are hints of the old Wolf too of course, especially in the eclectic choice of instrumentation and the off-kilter song arrangements; for every pop-perfect track there's a slice of raw darkness ("Bluebell,") casual introspection ("Augustine") or sidereal rock-tronica ("The Stars"). Less a dramatic re-invention than a sideways turn into the world of adult emotions and mainstream accessibility, The Magic Position
is nonetheless Patrick Wolf's most accomplished work to date. --Paul Sullivan
23 year-old Patrick Wolf carved quite a niche for himself with his first two albums (2003's Lycanthropy and 2005's Wind In The Wires), his unique sound influenced by practically everything from Atari Teenage Riot to Gustav Mahler (via folk music and everything else in between). With The Magic Position Wolf releases his major label debut, and enters the notoriously 'difficult' territory of the third album. So how does he fare?
Well, from the very first listen it becomes apparent that Wolf is having a ball. Whilst it would be grossly unfair to dismiss this as his 'pop' album - there are several moments of glorious, foot-stomping, handclapping, shameless pop music. That's not to say that there aren't several brooding, dark orchestral moments (''Finale''), or mad, Aphex Twin-style interludes (''The Secret Garden'') but overall the mood of the album is one of joy.
The Magic Position sounds like Wolf is constantly evolving and improving as both a writer and a producer (yes, he produced this album, too - is there anything this boy can't do?!). ''Augustine'' twinkles with romantic piano and serenades with gentle strings; ''Get Lost'' sounds like The Cure's Robert Smith singing a camp love song, backed by swells of brass and bubbling synths; and 'Bluebells' ingeniously incorporates the sound of fireworks alongside tribal drums and a kantale.
Yes, it's more polished than his previous albums, and it's true - it is poppier than them, but so what? Wolf may be young, but he's clearly not naive. The fact that this album had to be mastered three times before he was happy with it shows that this is how it's supposed to sound. This isn't 'selling out' or deliberately making a more radio-friendly album - it's Wolf's vision; and you know what? It's magnificent! --Simon Fernand
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