Patrick Wolf
The Bachelor


4.5
superb

Review

by Alex Silveri EMERITUS
June 2nd, 2009 | 54 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “Pop’s most ridiculous star” records his most extravagant and captivating album yet.

I’ve always been a fan of Patrick Wolf, but at the same time, I’ve always had to clarify just which Patrick Wolf I’m referring to. On the one hand, there’s the rather kitschy fellow whose ever evolving repertoire of hair dye and wardrobe changes have been the subject of public adoration and scorn; the one who once expressed his annoyance that nobody could seem to see that he was in fact, ‘the new Madonna’; the same Patrick Wolf whom in a (in)famous fit of frustration announced his retirement, only to retract it a day later to the bewilderment of his fans everywhere. Now that Patrick Wolf, I’ll admit, I’ve always been a bit weary of. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the time when Wolf was not just ‘Pop’s most ridiculous star’ as the Guardian has recently dubbed him, but an insular and insecure music maker whose stunningly evocative music crept from the shadows of the industry to garner a cult following beyond all expectations. The charm of course, like everything else probably lies somewhere in between, and on the musical side at least, The Bachelor marks a culmination of everything Wolf has always sold himself to be, and my, what a musical statement it is.

If Wolf’s last album, The Magic Position was the artist embracing life perhaps a little too enthusiastically after his deeply introspective early works, The Bachelor exhibits the same confidence without Magic’s rainbow-fairycake naivety and comes out better because of it. If anything, the Wolf is out of his cave and determinedly angry at those who’ve kept him in there for so long – As he so ardently declares to flailing guitar rock of “Battle”: ‘Since I was twelve, and me versus the world, I got so sick of being told my identity was a minority… and now we’ve got a battle… its time’. It’s time indeed, and Wolf isn’t about to let you forget it. Whereas earlier records draped themselves in a cloak of naked emotion and marked with the eerie trace of a boy finding his place in the world, The Bachelor oozes with ambition, sprawling with multi-layered instrumental compositions and comes out with all guns blazing. If it’s any sign, the opening salvo features a triad of some of the most powerful, hard hitting songwriting done by Wolf to date, as songs like “Hard Times” drip with the passion of self realization and “The Bachelor” plods to the heavy beat of angry defiance.

But as with most Wolf records, the main ingredients have been left in place – subtle electronics, multi instrumental complexity, as well as his distinctively British ornamented vocals and unmissable weaving violin. And as before, Wolf is still the quintessential songwriter’s songwriter, twisting and turning his sound along with every musical narrative and leaving no room for filler. Accordingly, it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole The Bachelor into any one mood – “Blackdown”’s gorgeous piano balladry eventually gives way to Wolf’s take on traditional Celtic dance, flutes, handclaps and all, while lead single “Vultures” kicks itself off with the pulse of electronic thumps before descending into a dance themed frolicker that will undoubtedly find its way into indie clubs around the world. Not one to leave other stones unturned either, “Battle” is without a doubt the closest Wolf has ever come to writing an all out headbangin’ rock song with its crunchy guitar riffing and driving drumming paving the way for a chorus of Wolf’s shouting “Battle! Battle! Battle!... Cry!” before ending with a falsetto howl that would make Muse’s Matt Bellamy blush with pride.

While older fans may be left floundering and questioning just where the old minimalist Wolf has stalked off too, The Bachelor is nevertheless the natural progression of an artist who has time and time again exceeded expectations. Even those who were disappointed by The Magic Position can’t deny that it still contained one of the best tracks ever set to record, the stunning “Magpie”. Besides, its not as if The Bachelor has lost all sense of grace either – “Thickets” is richly textured masterpiece of spiraling melodies and beautifully laid out songwriting, while “The Sun Is Often Out” towers above the albums second half as a riveting display of melancholy, punctured only by the theme of hope that shines through its seemingly bleak façade. Among it all is also Wolf’s seemingly newfound love for choral accompaniment, as backing choirs imbue the album with a majestic sweep of grandeur and a wailing sense of self-assurance, perhaps most effectively on “Damaris” as a wall of people offer a stirring a cry of “Rise up, Rise Up!”. Given the stunning work that is The Bachelor, it’s a call it seems that Wolf himself has taken up. Immersed in complexity and drowned in haunted beauty, The Bachelor then is truly a case of ‘Like Record, Like Songwriter’: A rousing vessel in which Wolf has finally had the chance to channel his newfound zany confidence into his most extravagant and captivating record yet.

4.3/5



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user ratings (82)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
rasputin
June 2nd 2009


14545 Comments


imaginary pos

gaslightanthem
June 2nd 2009


5209 Comments


this is fantastic, his second best probably behind 'Wind in the Wires'

mx
Moderator
June 2nd 2009


733 Comments


Is there a better album image available?

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
June 2nd 2009


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

On it, I added the album art when were we having problems and could only submit them in 100x100, should be good if you refresh.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

kingsoby1
Emeritus
June 2nd 2009


4950 Comments


funny that he's a "pop star" and i've never even heard of him until you guys started talking about it. i'll check it out i suppose.

Kiran
Emeritus
June 2nd 2009


6001 Comments


he is absolutely not a pop star

RevengeSoldier
June 2nd 2009


296 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

here comes me for a fanboy wank over the album
OHHHH YEA

Spare
June 2nd 2009


5308 Comments


excellent replacement of tori amos on the front page

Digging: Best Witches - Wishes

gaslightanthem
June 2nd 2009


5209 Comments


everyone should get this

jrowa001
June 2nd 2009


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah album rules!

HighandDriving
June 2nd 2009


3288 Comments


The Final Fantasy He Poos Clouds rec sold me.

alachlahol
June 2nd 2009


7489 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

who the hell is patrick wolf?? i've always wanted to be named 'Wolf' actually, like StarWolf.

cmb1888
June 2nd 2009


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I had such high hopes I thought this was sure to disappoint but it so doesn't.

Love him to bits!

scyther
June 2nd 2009


1606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wanted to like this but its his worst work yet.

gaslightanthem
June 2nd 2009


5209 Comments


Wanted to like it but its his worst work yet.


Nah, that was 'the magic position'


scyther
June 2nd 2009


1606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The Magic Position was original at least, this sounds very forced.

gaslightanthem
June 2nd 2009


5209 Comments


meh opinion is opinion. have you heard 'wind in the wires' cos that's his best

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2009


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

so fucking good, there are like four songs on here that are in my top 10 songs of the year

scyther
June 2nd 2009


1606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nah Lycanthropy is his best.

cmb1888
June 2nd 2009


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Want to give this one time to settle but up to now? Lycanthropy



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