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Patrick Wolf – “The Bachelor” Review

I must admit I came to Patrick Wolf very late – last year in fact. It’s not very often someone strikes a chord on the very first listen but it happened with Patrick. The Bachelor is his fourth full length album and came out yesterday and is more of the same and then some.

“Kreigspier” opens like an electronic air-raid siren before “Hard Times” jumps in with his unique brand of electronic alternative classical pop rock. There is an eastern influence on the strings which embellish over the punchy pop-rock tune. It’s not as glamorous and spangled  as his last album but is definitely single worthy and is a great introduction to everything Patrick Wolf.

“Oblivion” continues the electro-rock cross over a Metal Mickey beat. What is clear is that the production is a great part of the music here. The anti-pop beats make everything seem approachable yet layered with depth. “Oblivion” is a bit scatterbrained but better for it as it never sits still. Title track “The Bachelor” sounds like a pub song in a way, but to say so gives it complete injustice. It’s reminds me of Patrick’s songs that you can imagine him playing on his door step in the desert. It’s a song you can listen to repeatedly and find new noises in it too.

“Damaris” is epic. From the echoed drums to the 80’s synths to the swelling string sections to the backing choir, this track is nothing short of stunning and one his best songs to date. There’s just something about it. “Thickets” is the Celtic song of the album with Irish flutes and soothing percussion and strings again and its beautifully sublime. This album has a particular richness in its sound which really boosts the overall feel on the album.

“Count of Casualty” is genius. It sounds like a chip-tune (which I love). Of course other instruments come in too but the use of what sounds like a game over crash of an old SNES/Genesis game is great. The song is quite abstract but it lures you in and the haunting effect of the backing vocals really work for the chorus. “Who Will?” slows the pace down with a organ led track with various electric piano extras. The percussion eventually joins in but its filtered out and so makes the track stand out as its almost turned inside out  in terms of its audio.

Single “Vulture” is Patrick Wolf at his electronic best and will please fans of his first two albums and it reminds me of Fischerspooner in a way. I love the bending of notes in this track and its something that’s used throughout the album but comes to fore here. “Blackdown” changes everything to organic instruments with a piano led track. Being the sole “ballad” so far it sounds out even if  its not exactly slow and then half way through it becomes a band track. It is beautiful however if initially a bit hard to follow but the bridge is sumptuous.

“The Sun Is Often Out” isn’t the happy track I thought it’d be looking at the title. It’s a string/vocal track that is both haunting and emotive. It sits perfectly in amongst all the technical tracks and the climax with the choir is fantastic. “Theseus” (along with “Thickets”) has a narration running through it and there’s all kinds of guest vocal snippets scattered throughout the album. This track reminds me of his earlier albums, its serene, slightly folksy and alternative all at the same time and the sitar embellishment is a nice touch.

“Battle” is a return to the electro-pop-rock at the start of the album but this is Patrick running riot. This is an anthem through and through from the screaming “Fight!” to the rocking guitar riffs. It reminds me a bit of a rocked up Adam and the Ants. The closer “The Messenger” is an interesting closer and uses some familiar chord structures from other songs of his. It reminds me of “This Weather” and in fact sounds just like it in the verses. The chorus’ are different enough however and sounds like a Wolf-esque space odyssey.

“The Bachelor” is another triumph. New fans are start here, old fans can rediscover here. Patrick’s sound has moved enough to stay fresh, even if his chords don’t always change – which is no small accomplishment. Patrick has yet to make a dud and by this effort, he doesn’t even look close to.

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