What does Patrick Wolf sound like?
Dark folk blended into electronic and industrial symphonies.
The review Patrick Wolf – The Night Safari
It has been over a decade since Patrick Wolf last released music and during that time Patrick faced bankruptcy, addiction and the passing of his mother. Having said he felt he’d lost touch with his music, ‘The Night Safari’ sounds and feels like a return to Patrick Wolf’s roots. It’s a mixture of frenzied electronica and Celtic and Asian folk influences. Whilst there are flashes of symphonic moments here, the album eschews the bombastic bomb of Wolf’s later work.
Possibly the most bombastic and symphonic track is the opening title piece. Starting out with lush harp and piano motifs guiding Patrick’s strong vocals forward, it erupts for the final two minutes into something more akin to early 2000s Lamb. Driving beats, viola layers and ringing bells signal something of a rebirth as the song bounds into life. ‘The Night Safari’ is a five track EP that effortlessly flows from one song to the next like a single narrative. ‘Nowhere Game’ drives dark and evokes the same industrial murkiness of Wolf’s first two albums. Celtic strings provide the air to the deep bass and warped vocal chants. It is an instant classic in Wolf’s repertoire.
As if to signal a total 180 into his more experimental side, ‘Acheron’ is a disruptive colour bomb of 7/8 piano rolls, spoken word snippets, long drawn chants and exotic string moments. The drums spin around your ears and the whole track feels like its purpose is to catch you out. It reminds me a little of Imogen Heap’s iMegaphone b-sides but with a more exotic spin. It certainly stands out from the other tracks. ‘Dodona’ moves us from chaos to mourning as viola, piano and voice create the space for grief. The way the EP is structured from pacey dark beats to fractured chaos to Dodona’s space and elegance – the moment feels earned. It also makes the closing piece ‘Enter the Day’ all the sweeter as they both stay on the more dreamy acoustic side of Patrick’s grizzled piano-pop style but ‘Enter the Day’ is far more hopeful. It is as if over the 27 minutes, we’ve got caught up in a mess, had a proper good cry about it and exhaled deeply. The chirpy skip of the final tracks piano motif is like you’ve got a bounce in your step again. I hope Patrick Wolf feels like he has too.
‘The Night Safari’ is a superb return to music for Patrick Wolf. It feels cohesive and tells its own story. Fans who have waited for new work will not be disappointed one jot – sonically it’s as if he just stepped away for a few minutes. What is also great is that ‘The Night Safari’ would also work as a fantastic starting point for new fans too. It touches on the vast majority of his styles without feeling like it is covering old ground. It’s great to have one of Britain’s finest songwriters back creating comfortably again.
Recommended track: Nowhere Game
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