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Patrick Wolf: The Bachelor


Patrick Wolf

Album: The Bachelor
Label: Bloody Chamber Music

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Ever since Conor Oberst decided to become relatively tasteful and understated, the indie world has been short on wunderkind precocity and balls-to-the-wall wimpiness. Enter Patrick Wolf: pop architect, tortured young man, and one hell of a hormone salesman. The British songwriter-producer’s fourth full-length—released earlier this summer in England and purported to be half of a dual album, with the next half due next year—is titled The Bachelor, and its lyrics are as bitter and stark as its music is drenched in electro-acoustic butterscotch. As with 2007’s The Magic Potion, Wolf has ventured further from his dance-floor-slaying origins, becoming something closer to a soaring amalgam of Antony, Nico, and the moodiest moans of David Gahan. That said, what once was lush has now become a veritable rainforest: Songs like “Damaris” and “Theseus” threaten to collapse under the weight of orchestra, opera, and Wolf’s own oscillating tonsils, but they never do. In fact, by the album’s end, it turns out Wolf has sculpted the perfect escape pod for his own hemorrhaging heart. It’s easy to pick at Wolf’s emotional scabs; he all but does it for you. But when the dust settles around the closing notes of The Bachelor’s outro, “The Messenger,” it’s clear that Wolf has achieved that rare artistic feat: total catharsis. And a beautiful batch of it, at that.