Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor

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Rating: ★★★★½

Patrick Wolf entered the consciousness of music when his album Wind in the Wires propelled his angelic voice and his music into media outlets everywhere.  Since then, he’s carefully moved about in the industry, claiming to want to walk away at times, and then branching out musically by adding electronic elements with The Magic Position.  Now, he comes back to us with the first battle of a two part concept album, this one being titled The Bachelor; the battle imagery goes beyond the album art’s computer gaming appearance.

When the first real song appears on the album, it’s precisely what one would expect of Patrick Wolf at this point in his career.  String instruments are added to the brooding imagery, which is accompanied by the darker undertones of his vocals, but this all dissipates once the first part of the chorus chimes in with Wolf operatically screaming for “resolution,” which is juxtaposed by his calming request for “revolution.” Perhaps it’s these contradicting figures with whom Patrick is constantly battling himself; he’s mapped out his battlefield perfectly.

This album’s title track is perhaps one of the more interesting tracks that the young man has created to date.  While there is a sense of the folk inspiration that lay about his early work, there is something entirely haunting here, which is reinforced by the presence of Alec Empire of Atari Teenage Riot. Sure, it’s an odd pairing, but nothing Patrick has touched has ever been of the mundane sort; he rises above such things, just at “The Bachelor” rises above many of his previous songs.

Of course, the presence of various guests on this album alludes to some strange experimentation, which is usually prone to throwing some of Patrick’s albums off track.  On “Count of Casualty” Patrick seems to throw everything into the mix, including a recipe of chanting, strings, digital effects and his vocals.  It’s a song of cluttered, but ornate, noise.  However, it’s balanced perfectly by “Who Will,” the track that follows.  Here Wolf opens with an organ and his voice, just before a chorale comes chiming in with accompaniment.  It’s the perfect balance between songs, demonstrating the range he has asked us to grow accustomed to with his music.

“Vulture” hits hard, just as you would expect.  It’s the most electronic piece on the album, and you can definitely see the influence of Alec Empire in this song, which may or may not be a good thing, depending upon who you choose to ask.  In the chorus, Wolf’s vocals don’t feel nearly as strong as they do on previous tracks, but the pulsating track still manages to stay inside your head.

The Bachelor is the most successful string of songs that Patrick Wolf has managed to put together, if you exclude “Battle” from the tracklist.  His prior works have always teetered off after unbelievably song starts, but this album succeeds by making it to the end without losing your interest in any manner.  As he has grown up, his confidence and his abilities to blend multiple genres with his unique voice have provided Mr. Wolf with a greatness few will achieve.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/02-hard-times.mp3]

Download: Patrick Wolf – Hard Times [MP3]

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