13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Stepping out of the shadows.,
This review is from: The Bachelor (Battle One) (Audio CD)
Patrick Wolf's fourth album is his first recorded with a budget, in proper studios, and with serious collaborations (The Magic Position's dalliance with Marianne Faithful notwithstanding in the facer of Eliza Carthy, Matthew Herbert, Tilda Swinton, and Alec Empire, who all appear here). It's also, (in)famously partly funded by donations from fans paid via the internet - £100,000 to mix the album and subsidise early tours.
The resulting record may well alienate fans of the low-fi, bedroom caterwauling that made up his debut, Lycanthropy, or the lonesome promontory folk of Wind In The Wires. It may even confuse fans of the pop-inclined Magic Position, his last album from 2007. But it shouldn't, because The Bachelor, a collection of songs charting the dark days and emotions that followed his brush with major record labels and existential panic, is a terrific record that sees Patrick step not only out of his bedroom but also out of the shadow of his key influences - namely Kate Bush and David Bowie.
Because have no doubts about it; this is a big, elaborate, ostentatious record that has more in common with The Hounds Of Love than with whoever's trendy with the gatekeepers of indie taste in 2009. Swinging from darkly tinged, sexually-charged electro on Vulture to bona fide English folk traditions on the title track, Thickets, and Blackdown, and taking in dramatic string & choir laden ruminations on loneliness such as Damaris and Theseus, as well as full-on guitar driven anthemic rock (Hard Times), and perfect symbioses of all of this distilled into perfect dissonant pop nuggets (Oblivion), it covers all the bases that Patrick has traversed through his career thus far, only now it does so with a stronger purpose, with more accomplished songs - with a sense of ambition and pride and imperative.
Yes, it verges on overblown on numerous occasions; yes, choirs are deployed; yes, Patrick's vocals are now dramatically accomplished and refined rather than the castrato terror that typified his debut: but this is what happens when a gifted boy grows into a talented man. Some people will doubtless see this as a betrayal or a loss; others will recognise it as an evolution.
That £100,000 is well spent, too, because this is a gorgeous-sounding record, rich with timbre and scale, depth and dynamics, flutes and violas and sequencers and ancient synthesisers and guitars and drums and ukulele and grand piano and church organ and double bass and sitar and "circuit bent mobile phone" and cutlery percussion and massed voices recorded and mixed with real skill and attention to sonic detail.
If you can't tell, I think this is Patrick Wolf's masterpiece.