Album Review: Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor

By on Monday, 18th May 2009 at 2:00 pm

Patrick Wolf - The Bachelor (cover side)Back in 2007, South London singer-songwriter, Patrick Wolf suggested to the shock and dismay of many fans, that he was swiftly considering quitting the music industry. Despite the incredible success of ‘The Magic Position’, the fame, pressure and tiring promotion that came alongside the album’s acclaim proved too much for Patrick. Although Wolf ultimately went on to part ways with the bigwigs at Universal Records, thankfully, however, he didn’t give up the musical fight completely. Instead, Patrick enthusiastically set about returning to his much-preferred independent roots.

Consequently, in December of 2008, Wolf bravely asked fans to invest a well-spent £10 into the production costs of his then-upcoming record – forming a little record-company type clique between him and his followers. The scheme went on to prove successful, and Patrick Wolf set about completing the recording of his next record, ‘Battle’.

Ahhh, but if the album is titled ‘Battle’, why are we reviewing ‘The Bachelor’ you may wonder? Well, Patrick decided to split the initially-titled ‘Battle’ into two halves – ‘The Bachelor’ being one side, and ‘The Conqueror’ being the other. Unfortunately, we have to wait until 2010 ’till we get to hear said second side of ‘Battle’, but never fear, as this week, TGTF were lucky enough to grab a sneek preview of Patrick’s first-serving – ‘The Bachelor’.

The album kicks off with the 47 second instrumental build-up, ‘Kriespiel’, excitingly leading listeners into track two, ‘Hard Times’ . After the fuzzy white-noise, the song abruptly breaks out into a chirpy string flourish, before in-kick those dark, velvety vocals of Patrick Wolf that we’ve all grown to love so much. ‘Hard Times’ gradually progresses into a truly epic, choir-included sing-along, providing an incredibly uplifting start to this highly-anticipated album.

Said choir I mentioned just now continue to make a regular appearance throughout the album. Heartbreaking tracks such as the ‘Who Will?’, ‘The Sun is Often Out’ and ‘Damaris’ see Patrick passionately singing along with the epic, church-like chorus. The latter track I mentioned, ‘Damaris’, is perhaps an album highlight. This slow-building, sullen ballad comes complete with weeping strings and a fierce drum beat, all eventually exploding into an almighty glorious climax, which sees Patrick and the choir calling out to “Rise up! Rise up!”.

Patrick Wolf (press side)Dirtier, gritter tunes on ‘The Bachelor’ include the album’s debut single ‘Vulture’, a sinister, synth-based, 80s-esque tune (fittingly complete with a controversial video to boot..see YouTube..), and ‘Battle’, which I can only describe as an electro-folk-metal tinged tune, all miraculously rolled into one (and yes, it’s certainly comes along unexpected, and while it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the record, it’s intriguingly experimental to say the least…).

Slower, simpler and more stripped-back tracks that feature on the album include the piano-led ‘Blackdown’ and the sitar-sprinkled ‘Theseus’ – a gentle stomping number, which is just one of three tracks on ‘The Bachelor’ featuring a guest voice over appearance by British actress, Tilda Swinton (who features as the optimistic ‘Voice of Hope’ to Patrick throughout the album). Furthermore, tracks such as ‘Thickets’ and dreamy album-closer, ‘The Messenger’ beautifully carry along that trademark, fairytale pagan-folk sound that Patrick Wolf just wouldn’t be Patrick Wolf without.

Conclusively, I’m glad to say the ‘The Bachelor’ is proof that you do not need the backing of a massive record label to produce a show stopping album. Despite his troubles, Patrick has come back this 2009 with an astounding record that I instantly fell in love with on first listen (and rarely does that happen). It’s dreamy, experimental, emotional and plain beautiful. From the exotic range of instruments, to the epic choirs, to Patrick’s genuine passion, to heck, perhaps even the invention of a new genre (I’m talking ‘Battle’ here) – just everything about this album is pretty darn amazing. It’s truly one of the boldest records of the year so far.

Patrick Wolf‘s The Bachelor is out on June 1st. Pre-order your copy now.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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