Review Summary: Great album with great sound textures, that suffers from a few poor choices by the artist
Patrick Wolf – Wind In The Wires
Sometime last year I came across an album in a second hand CD shop called “Ind in the Wires”. Apparently, the label maker missed out the “W”. Whenever me and my friend would go into this shop, we'd pick out a random CD for less than a fiver and we'd have to buy them. While my friend got some unnamed album that came with a free pair of 3D glasses (it would later turn out to be Insane Clown Posse, which he subsequently burned for a laugh), I came out with the first great album I had got from that shop.
Wind in the Wires is a curious little piece of music. The opening song “The Libertine” has Mr Wolf telling the story of a number of ill-fated travelers, circus folk, a pirate and the titular Libertine, but towards the end a heavily distorted verse pops up that sums up Patrick Wolf in about 30 seconds in the phrase :
“And in this drought of truth and invention
Whoever shouts the loudest gets the most attention
So we pass the mic and they've got nothing to say except:
"Bow down, bow down, bow down to your god"
Then we hit the floor
And make ourselves and idol to bow before,
Well I can't and I wont bow down anymore.
He is going to do what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. As a result, the music of Wind in the Wires is wide and varied. From the dark circus violins of The Libertine, we are lead into a song that could easily be a simple piano ballad, “Teignmouth”, but as is Patrick Wolfs way, it might have started out as a piano ballad. What we have here is a ballad that is twisted and broken, only to be rebuilt into an electronic soundscape seeping with emotion, choirs and distorted drums. A lot of the songs on Wind in the Wires are broken down and built up this way, notably the titular track, “Wind in the Wires”, which sees Patrick as his most emotionally fragile upon a back drop of ukulele and sombre piano, with an unusually tame drum beat.
The albums main failing, though, is in its inconsistency. There are 3 songs that the album could really do without: “The Shadowsea”, “Apparition” and “Eulogy”. These songs act as “interludes”, if you will, but quite frankly just upset the flow of the album. A bit like the “skits” you might find on about any rap album past 2000: they're entertaining the first time you hear them, and they fill out the tracklisting. That's it though. A select few might find these songs essential to the album, but I'm clearly not one of them.
The album has a number of highlights: The eccentric “Ghost Song” where a story of his spirit coming out from his bellybutton to find itself, the dance-tastic “Tristan” which sees the Wolf in Patrick break lose for the first time since the previously mentioned “The Libertine”, and the common themed, but fantastically delivered, “This Weather”. The album ends on a high note with “Lands End” built around the key of Dmajor and a descending ukulele riff, with Patrick recounting the success of his first album. The menacing “The Railway House” is another highlight, strangely simple in its delivery compared to the rest of the album.
Now, Patrick Wolf is often associated with a genre called “Folktronica”. Where does the folk part of this sound come in, I hear you ask? It's in Patricks insistence that he uses the original instruments instead of keyboard sounds as you might expect of your average musician. Patricks collection includes several organs, accordians, violins/violas, ukuleles, rhodes pianos, double bass, clavicord and acoustic guitars. As a result, the album has a lovely warm feel that sounds in no way flat or discordant.
Overall, it's a very strong album, that with a little tweaking could easily be a classic.
Wind In The Wires
The Railway House
For the more dedicated fan:
The Gypsy King
Not really worth a listen, but maybe on a play through of the album
Thanks for reading, I hope this review helps on your understanding of this album