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Patrick Wolf rarely gives the impression of someone who creates music in a carefree fashion. At times the phrase "tortured artist" seems so crushingly apt that it's almost caricature. Lupercalia was originally meant to be the second part of a double-album, entitled Battle. The first part, The Bachelor, arrived in 2009 bearing the marks of its difficult gestation too heavily. Recorded after bouts of depression and exhaustion, it's an album that's hard to love, flitting between aggressive electronica and folk paeans.
Towards the end of its creation, Wolf said he felt his confidence return and that this creative rejuvenation, coupled with falling in love, lead him to Lupercalia, named after a pre-Roman festival of purification. Its title is completely apt, with nearly all its songs focusing on the healing power of love and the happiness that comes from it. The City sets the tone, all galloping drum beats, handclaps and a chorus that chimes "won't let this city destroy our love". Even a sax solo can't dampen the exuberance. House depicts delicious domesticity over strident strings. It should be cloying – "I love the curling of your hair / Gives me the greatest peace I've ever known" – but the sheer force of good will is so strong that you can't help being swept along. Closer The Falcons bounds about like an over-excited puppy, Wolf practically shouting "things are looking up for us" at the top of his lungs.
Wolf has recently denied suggestions that Lupercalia is his attempt at breaking a mainstream that's been resolutely sceptical thus far. Perhaps burned by the reaction to his last major label effort, 2007’s The Magic Position, he's been quick to deny any kind of 'dumbing down'. This isn't an album to convert the sceptics, with his distinctively dramatic and richly honeyed voice front and centre. The slower songs are typical Wolf, with Armistice a re-working of an old Manx Gaelic folk song and featuring the duduk – an Armenian wind instrument – and something called a Cristal Bachet. He's still wonderfully pretentious, but that pretentiousness has been harnessed into songs as opposed to wilful experimentation.
Over the space of five albums, Wolf has confirmed himself as one of the UK's genuinely interesting pop stars. Lupercalia manages to walk the fine line between upbeat and irritating, between unabashed happiness and over-sentimentality. The fabric of the songs seems imbued with joy, and it's testament to the quality of the songwriting that you don't feel alienated by what are incredibly personal lyrics. It's an all-inclusive love in, basically, and all the better for it.
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Top Customer Reviews
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).Read more ›
We should be happy for him. 'Lupercalia' finds him sounding far cheerier than
he has ever seemed before. The album is overflowing with warm positivity
and vibrant, tip-top, merry-go-round enthusiasm. Love can do that to you!
No longer 'The Batchelor' of 2009, these eleven wonderful songs prove what
we had really known all along. Mr Wolf is one of the country's very finest
songwriters. Listen to the glorious 'House' if any further proof were needed.
The melody, the arrangement, the harmonies, the words and that stunningly
rich baritone voice coalesce together into one juicily transcendent whole!
(By now it is probable that you will have noticed that I like this album!)
The romance continues unabated on 'Bermondsey Street'; a proudly defiant
anthem; a forceful challenge to blind prejudice and hatred. Bravo Mr Wolf!
The energy and the quality don't let up for a moment. The eighties sonic
elements and folksy threads which have always defined the best of his work
are still here but more subtely and gently integrated into a coherent entity.
Coming in at a little under three minutes 'The Future' is yet another powerful
manifestation of a creative imagination firing on all six cylinders.
Play it loud and you will feel the floor tilt under your feet!
Crikey! It's hard to pick a favorite amongst such fine fare but if I had to
reach for one then it would have to be 'Together'. It's a big, big song, full
of passion, sung from the heart with both spirit and that wonderfully controlled
vibrato fully engaged. Mr Wolf is as fine a producer as he is a performer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this for my partner, he loves it. Have to say I'd not heard of this artist but having listened to the cd a number of times I really like it.Published on 21 April 2014 by Sholto
We purchased this album as a direct result of watching the Jo Wiley sessions on BB2, which featured Patrick Wolf, who we had never heard of before. His music is just pure genius! Read morePublished on 31 Aug. 2013 by yummymummy
Another brilliance by Patrick Wolf how does he do it? I have no idea buy this and listen to it everyday of your life.Published on 19 Dec. 2012 by glylay
I have just come back from watching an acoustic Patrick Wolf Concert in Bristol and must write a review!! Read morePublished on 11 Dec. 2012 by Mr. F. Ghillani
As Patrick's work was heavily promoted by Hurts on recent interviews etc I suspect I was expecting something more along their debut, even though he has released several albums over... Read morePublished on 29 Aug. 2012 by M. B. Wilson
Like others before me I came to this album via Radio 2. House and The City were for me the two songs of 2011. Brilliant, uplifting and defiant. Read morePublished on 8 Mar. 2012 by Perry Royston
Absolutely beautiful for the most part, would have got 5stars but I feel a couple of the songs don't quite fit in with the album. Notable songs are The City, Together, and House. Read morePublished on 5 Feb. 2012 by Lanny2616
i have followed Patrick from his first album, and he never lets me down. lush full sounds & poetic lyrics. Read morePublished on 10 Dec. 2011 by gar1975
Like this CD, good debut album from Mr.Wolf. First of many i hope. 9 out of 10, always room for improvement.Published on 20 Aug. 2011 by LairdTed