It is a dark and stormy night; the moon hangs round and heavy over the shadowy alleyways of London where wanton creatures with full red lips hold dominion over Dionysian celebrations. If this kind of alluring nefariousness sounds like your cup of tea, get ready to bare your fangs in delight, because Patrick Wolf has created the most devious of dance parties with his newest album, The Bachelor.
From his glam-tastic outfits and theatrics to his self-proclaimed ambiguous sexuality, the 25-year old Brit is very much a modern day Bowie. Velvet Goldmine fans rejoice! Brian Slade has at last sauntered off the screen, glitter and temper tantrums included. Wolf is not all image though far from it. He plays a variety of instruments including the viola, the piano, and the ukulele. He's performed with an art collective, toured with an orchestra, rocked out with a punk band, and attracted the attention of Fat Cat Records which equipped him with a laptop for recording and remixing his own music all before turning twenty. Then again, great things are to be expected from someone who built his first theramin at age eleven.
After a looming introduction, The Bachelor launches into the album's first single, "Hard Times," with the kind of baroque ferocity expected of Nightwish. Violins shriek as Wolf's deep voice resolves to work harder and "ignore mediocrity applauded." His hard work has been rewarded mediocrity is nowhere to be found on this record. Wolf's vocals are perfect for the ensuing dramatics, shifting effortlessly between seductive cabaret crooning, ominous sneering, and all-out wailing.
The rest of the record shows the same kind of impressive range. Wolf seamlessly blends romantic instrumentation by way of organ and harpsichord with laptop electronica to create what he once called "organic electricity." "Oblivion" and "Vulture" are electronica-heavy dance hits, approaching The Faint's darker stuff. Heartwrenching strings wail on "Damaris," giving it a chilling operatic effect. "Battle" is bona fide punk, clamoring to "battle the homophobes! Battle the war!"
In some ways, this sort of call to arms is the heart of the album. Initially titled Battle, the record was supposed to be political, until via explosive love affair, it became about "sex and the world." Still, it's retained the fighting spirit. "Who Will?" implores the listener to step up, "Damaris" yells to "rise up," and "Hard Times" resolves to work harder "for resolution / for revolution." Although his causes remain vague, the young werewolf at large makes it all too seductive to join his army of darkness.
Back in 2004, Wolf's Lycanthropy was ridden with themes of an unsure adolescence - a talented, energetic pup still looking for his sound. Three albums later, The Bachelor is a cinematic and alluring, a fun foray into orchestrated rawness which recalls The Dresden Dolls and World/Inferno Friendship Society. If Twilight took all the fun out of the changeling mythology by desexing it, Wolf is back to spice things up again. It's evident Wolf has finally come into his ownand he's hungry. - Nina Mashurova