If it were left to radio or Billboards charts, my collection would be filled with Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga, and the like. Thankfully I have sources like British music magazine Q to guide me, so when I saw they gave this album 4 stars, my interest was piqued. I had never heard of Patrick Wolf before this but I must say I am taken by his majestic and beautiful music. It sounds as though it were written for a musical, incorporating classical instruments like ukulele, viola, piano, as well as Celtic and electronic adornments for a dramatic flourish. This is an album I listen to straight through from start to end, and I'll attempt to go through each track to give you a feel of the music.
Opening is the brief instrumental "Kriespiel" which sounds like a spacecraft engine being tuned, leading into the sunny shimmery "Hard times" (think Duran Duran meets David Bowie - He does look like Bowie/Billy Idol stepping out of a time machine on the cover) and the bouncy "Oblivion" (featuring Tilda Swinton as "The Voice of Hope") with skittery electronic beats and cutting strings.
"The Bachelor' (featuring Eliza Carthy) is adapted from a traditional Folk song "Poor Little Turtle Dove." It is (in this case) an androgynous love song about a farmer lamenting his lack of a spouse despite all his wealth in livestock, with Eliza's gravelly voice sounding distinctly masculine. This song is simply awesome! I must point out that unlike Tilda Swinton who provides narration on the songs she appears, Eliza sings a duet with Wolf. "Damaris" is another standout, a sombre Pop song with icy sounding viola and a choppy riff.
With melancholic ukelele sounds and plucked guitars, Thickets (again featuring Tilda Swinton as "The Voice of Hope") has a strong Celtic feel. "Count of casualty" has choir-like harmonies offset by a staccato of electronic pulses. "Who will?" is a more stripped ballad with subtly dramatic strings and electronic flourishes.
"Vulture" is bouncy Electro-Pop with slightly distorted vocals and squelchy effects, while "Blackdown" starts off deceptively as a piano ballad before marching beats, claps and swirling strings sweep in. The lyrics appear to be autobiographical, a monologue with his father - "Get proud of my birthright / think of the things that I must leave / When I leave behind the city and the living, finally".
The Bowie-like "The sun is often out" is a string-swathed ballad with a choir-backed chorus, followed by Theseus (featuring Tilda Swinton as "The Voice of Hope") with sweeping strings and gentle beats. "Battle" is a frenetic rocker, and closing is "The messenger" with a tinkling and chiming intro and interesting electronic beats against a haunting backdrop.
This is what music should be, intelligent, moving, and cerebral!
on December 11, 2013
Another wonderful album by Patrick Wolf. My best friend and I find that his music is great for brightening our days during those times when we are feeling down and don't want to be consoled. The seemingly dark subject matter is brightened and given a hopeful outlook by the poetic dialogue behind the music. "Theseus" and "Thickets" are surely my favorites, and worth the price of the album alone. You will not be disappointed.
on May 23, 2011
I stumbled upon Patrick Wolf by accident last year when I clicked on his "Hard Times" video on YouTube. I was hooked and purchased "The Bachelor" at once. Patrick's music is hard to classify. He has an enviable grasp on songwriting. He doesn't fit the traditional mold or melodic approach that you hear (i.e., repeating the same chord progressions ad nauseum).
It is my understanding that "The Bachelor" is his darkest work to date, but don't mistake "dark" for "depressing." Even the songs that weigh heavy on the heart leave you with some hope and melodies that are so lofty that you can't help but sing along.
Tilda Swinton steps in as what I can only call a "narrator," speaking interludes and interjecting words of encouragement. This could have come off as cheesy or silly, but given the heft and richness of the accompaniment and the incomparable acting chops Ms. Swinton possesses, even these parts of the album feel perfectly appropriate.
Some of the best tracks on the album are "Hard Times," "Theseus," and "The Messenger." Patrick's upcoming album "Lupercalia" promises to be lighter fare, but I'll always enjoy the dark sweetness of "The Bachelor."
on August 7, 2014
Years ago, I was downloading free songs randomly from Amazon and one of them happened to be "The Bachelor". I didn't listen to it for over a week, but absently put it into a test playlist before bed one night. After it came on I was hooked, and I bought the album the second I could spell 'able'. I love Patrick Wolf and have all of his albums, as well as every stray song I could find floating around the ether-webs. Wolfling all the way.
on August 28, 2009
I've found all of Patrick Wolf's albums to be inconsistent, but this one is easily my favorite. It took a while to grow on me - in fact this started as a three-star review, and I yanked it at rewrote it as I became more fond of the album. Some of the songs are just incredible: "The Bachelor" is stunning and is my favorite Wolf song to date, and "Damaris", "Who Will" and "Theseus" are especially great too. On the other hand, "Battle" is pretty terrible, and a couple other songs don't match the strength of the album's best tracks. But as a whole, it's great, and actually exceeds my expectations for Wolf. Very well done.
on June 3, 2009
Patrick Wolf is a moody fellow. It's almost torture to follow his progress of making a new album, since his whims are constantly changing. Like local weather patterns, there's no concrete way to predict how Patrick will be feeling on any given day.
Globally, though, Patrick seems to demonstrate some predictable shifts. His first album, "Lycanthropy," was an exciting blend of the dark and the dancey, the melancholy and the melodic. It was also an unabashed claim for the attention of the music world. Alas, it was only a cult hit, and so his follow-up record, "The Wind in the Wires" turned into an insular, brooding opus that wore the artist's frustrations on its sleeve. The music was still great, but one gets the feeling that our narcissistic pop genius was being a tad melodramatic. From the title cut: "This wild electricity, turned static by industry, like a bird in an aviary..."
Then, with "The Magic Position," his ambitions came back. He once again fused his dark sensibilities with danceable beats and hummable melodies, and added just enough sugar and sunlight to make some of us think he might become a star after all. Alas, it didn't happen. Patrick was still ignored in America, and he wasn't happy about that.
Which brings us to this album, "The Bachelor." We all knew this was going to be a largely negative album, for that's what the climate patterns seemed to indicate. Patrick was originally describing this as an aggressive, fully electronic record. It was to be named "Battles," and would largely feature collaborations with Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire. To me, that sounded pretty promising.
Unfortunately, his local moods shifted a bit...again. Concepts changed, titles changed, album lengths changed. And sounds changed. Only one song on the Bachelor actually lives up to the concept of the original Battles album--the glorious death disco anthem, "Vulture." The negative moods are definitely there: the brooding, self-absorbed Patrick is back in full force: railing against mediocrity, battling against warmongering, and sulking in his luxurious solitude.
Most of the songs are very strong, despite the banal insularity of their lyrics. The main problem with the album is its production. Patrick's excessive use of dramatic strings and choirs here rob the album of an honest emotional pull, not to mention a much needed immediacy and vitality. The ramshackle energy of Vulture recalls past Wolf greats like "The Childcatcher" and "Tristan," but, sadly, this energy is the exception for the Bachelor, and not the rule. His recklessly impulsive nature usually leads to thrilling results. But here, his last minute shift in sound actually served to dilute the force of his art, and what was to be his grand rite of catharsis ends up sounding masturbatory without any satisfaction of a climax. Just an aimless stroking of his wounded ego.
...Which is not to say that I dislike the Bachelor. Patrick Wolf's got a gift for making music, and these songs are mostly great. But it is nonetheless disappointing. I almost wish that he, in a fit of sudden dissatisfaction, decided to re-record or remix the Bachelor to suit his old Battles approach.
But that won't happen. At best, I can just hope that its follow-up is more wild and electric than this comparatively static affair. It will likely be more upbeat and catchy, as such a change is in keeping with his emotional climate patterns. He's currently talking this new one up as "happy, pornographic music," drawing from Motown and disco. But who knows, maybe he'll decide that an album of Captain & Teneille songs played on steel drums and banjo will be a better way to reflect his mood this time around.
on June 28, 2009
Patrick Wolf is a musical genius of the highest order. This album is stunning in it's scope and depth. I can't say enough about this music. There really isn't anyone else out there making music like this...brings to mind various attributes of David Sylvian, Kate Bush, and even Frank Tovey. Dark and melodic, mysterious yet hummable, obtuse but meaningful, brooding yet open...this album is album of the year for me, and Patrick's music in general is spellbinding. One of those artists that will have a small but vigilant following that truly undertands what it means to create "art". I am hooked!
on October 23, 2011
This is Patrick Wolf's 4th album and, in my opinion, his best. Gone is the optimism of The Magic Position. The Bachelor marks a return to the darkness, rage, and sorrow of his first two albums. However, while Lycanthropy and Wind in the Wires both reflected a young man's volatile emotions, The Bachelor is entirely adult. There can be no doubt that the artist has grown up, has felt real pain, and has found a mature outlet for his frustrations. This album is haunting and raw with emotion, from the grief of Damaris, to the resignation of the title track, to the rage of Vulture. Patrick is not only an incredibly talented musician, but a poet as well. The lyrics to every song could be printed and read as poetry, unlike many modern artists. Patrick Wolf is refreshingly original, while still clinging to the traditional roots of his craft, focusing on lyricism and musicality, rather than repetitive choruses and obvious rhymes like so many of his peers. Wolf transcends labels and genres. This is a truly brilliant album and should not be missed.
on November 14, 2009
Patrick Wolf is a busy bee. When he is not beating boyfriends on stage he is witnessing street fair performances or crafting albums geared to surpass the conventional. The past two years have shaped his creative bulb into a different creature, thus not long ago he announced his desire to make a double album where he could pour all his recent experiences. Luckily he decided to alleviate the burden and chose to split the project in two parts, of which The Bachelor is the first and Conqueror the second, to see the light in 2010.
His precocious musical training thrust him into the spotlight with the poignant debut Lycanthropy (2003)where he talked about isolation, sexual awakening and coming of age. It was Wind in the wires with the extraordinary singles Tristan and The libertine that turned the critics' heads and made him an artist to watch. This second album was cemented deeply in his Cornish and Irish roots, giving his fascination for local legends and bohemian life a taste of grounded honesty. The magic position would be the one to take him beyond the circle of cult reviewers and to the ears of the entire world. Its eponymous single was ubiquitous and lost love centered tracklist was a solid return to form.
The idea behind The Bachelor has changed as much as the labels he worked for: it went from being political to the depression he suffered during his last world tour to the vortex of emotions generated by his newfound love. When parting ways with Universal Records he made public his decision to sell the shares of the album on [...], a system that allows contributers to invest in the finishing and production of the album at the same time that they get a share of it, "almost like being a co-owner" he said. The effort paid off because after many turns the release date was finally set for June 1st.
Faithful to his taste for impressive intros Kriespel gives cue to Hard times, in my opinion of the finest singles released so far this year, with its contrasting electro beats and exquisite violin among cries for change. He delivers one of his best vocal performances without much fanfare.
The bachelor is the song that most reminds of the Lycanthropy era. Paired with powerful Eliza Carthy Wolf's voice falls slightly behind, but they both sail swiftly on a piano-based melody that depicts the imaginary life of a farmer and his wife. Damaris is a perfect example of a successful attempt at epic. The song is perfection from beginning to end and every instrument converges to the climatic finale where the choir chants "rise up" much to the listener's delight.
If he sins of anything it is from crowding songs that would have sounded great otherwise. By insisting on multiple layers of vocals and arrangements he crosses the fine line of good taste into excess: by the time The sun is often out comes on the trick under the sleeve that a children's choir was in the first track has lost its appeal and one wishes he would forget it for good.
Another evident flaw is the hidden meaning of most of the songs. Take Vulture and its S&M themed lyrics and video for instance, if it wasn't for Wolf explaining it in interviews no one would ever guess it is about his experience with a satanist in California.
The spoken word contribution of actress Tilda Swindon fits appropriately in some tracks, like Marianne Faithful did in Magpie, but when used merely to repeat Wolf's sung verses becomes a tiresome resource that should have been avoided altogether.
Some have already dismissed him as an egomaniac seeking to touch the stars too soon, while others see him as one of the few remaining hopes for the future of British music. Personal behavior aside Patrick Wolf has paid his dues and even though he could use some tweaking his robust voice (young Morrissey anyone?)and still inventive songwriting skills speak for themselves. The Bachelor may sound overpowering and non-cohesive on a back-to-back play but we have yet to see what awaits on its second installment. For now the craving has been satisfied with a splendid reminder of what tragedy and redemption can do for inspiration.
on April 29, 2014
I love this album but the box was all broken. The only good thing is that the cd has no scratches. I will have to look for a new box to keep it in it. I would'nt buy a cd from the seller again.