Monday, June 8th, 2009
Count Of Casualty
Review of Patrick Wolf's The Bachelor and giveaway
Nick Thornton Jones/Warren Du PreezBelieve it or not, Patrick Wolf is really just like the rest of us – he gets lonely, insecure and frustrated with life and at the end of the day, just wants to be loved. It just so happens that he’s also a 6’4″ musical prodigy with a penchant for melodrama, a sartorial sense that ranges from the unusual to the outrageous and whose inner monologue of self-affirmation sounds an awful lot like Tilda Swinton.
His new album The Bachelor – out in the UK and digitally in North America now and getting a physical release here on August 11 – is dizzying sonic mash-up of facet of Wolf’s works, from the gothic electronica of Lycanthropy through Wind In The Wires‘ ghostly folk to The Magic Position‘s giddy techniclour pop, all wrapped around the very basic theme of Wolf wondering if he’ll ever find love. In the hands of some, the collision of all these sounds might be a cacophonous mess, especially when you add in the electro-industrial textures of Alec Empire, but with Wolf it somehow sounds perfectly natural to veer from Celtic folk to 8-bit synth-pop, all of it swathed in strings and Wolf’s dramatic, emotive baritone – the enormity of his creative vision unable to be confined by any single genre. The man thinks in widescreen – no, IMAX – and the breadth of The Bachelor is simply intended to capture it in all its grandiose, over the top glory.
Wolf’s larger than life aesthetic isn’t for everyone, certainly, but for those who allow themselves to be swept up in Wolf’s epic creations, The Bachelor seems a watershed record for the young auteur. There’s never been any question that Wolf has had a very clear idea of what he’s wanted to say and how he wants to say it, but with The Bachelor, there’s the sense that the listener is now hearing what Wolf himself hears – it sounds like the sum of all his previous works, blended into one concise, chaotic statement. Though initially disappointed that the double-album Battle was split into two albums and the second part, the triumphant The Conqueror, pushed back to 2010, I suspect that’s now for the best. The Bachelor is so rich and dense that if the companion record is nearly as good – and I really hope it is – it’d really be too much to absorb. I think I’ve managed to avoid this sort of hyperbole for the year so far, so I’ll give myself a cookie now – The Bachelor will almost certainly be one of my favourite albums of the year. Just watch.
Wolf is currently on tour in North America as part of the Nylon Summer Music Tour alongside The Living Things, The Plastiscines and Jaguar Love and will be at the Mod Club in Toronto on June 17. And, courtesy of REMG, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Patrick Wolf” in the subject line and your full name in the body. The contest will close at midnight, June 14.
There’s features on Wolf at The Skinny, The Quietus, Clash and Decider, videos of a couple of exclusive acoustic performances at Out and a behind-the-scenes feature on the making of the glow-in-the-dark video for “Hard Times” has emerged.
God Help The Girl has released one more MP3 from the forthcoming album – out June 23 – that should be extra-familiar to Belle & Sebastian fans. It also offers a pretty good reference point for how God Help The Girl differs from Belle & Sebastian, and how it’s alike.
Minnesota Public Radio has been on a roll with the studio sessions – last week they welcomed Jenny Lewis and also St Vincent, the latter of whom is at the Horseshoe on August 8 and was interviewed by The Chicago Tribune.
Pitchfork has details on a forthcoming Jayhawks anthology Music From The North Country, due out July 7. It’ll be available in standard and deluxe editions, the latter of which includes a disc of rarities and a DVD of the band’s videos.
Two-thirds of the new A Camp covers EP, out tomorrow, is available to hear right now. Stream their Grace Jones cover at Spin and their Pink Floyd cover at Spinner. There’s interviews with the band at 2 Advocate, The Denver Post and The Montreal Mirror.
If you couldn’t be at The Radio Dept’s show in New York last month – and judging from the number of curses sent my way, there were a few of you – here’s the next best thing. Not one, but two live recordings of their set at the Bell House in Brooklyn, one from Bradley’s Almanac and another by a fan but made available at the band’s website.
Ra Ra Riot have a date at Lee’s Palace on September 11, tickets $13.50.