There’s a new, lusty Thin White Duke at the door, let him in
As its opening drum tattoo gradually settles into an eager heartbeat, elfin art-rock outsider Patrick Wolf’s third album sets out its manifesto: “to live, to learn, to love in the major key”. Yes, tired of forever skulking in the shadows, with ‘The Magic Position’, 23-year old Wolf bursts into the brightest Technicolor.
It was clear from the release of the thrilling single ‘Accident & Emergency’ in October that this Londoner was no longer content to just rest on the laurels earned by two albums of eerie cult-level electro-folk. But with this record he displays a new tune-heavy extroversion, wandering seamlessly between experimentalism and pop craftsmanship. Just look at the way mesmerising sound collage ‘The Secret Garden’ – with its strange mooings and off-the-hook phone noises – lunges without pause into the sugary glam-pop stomp of ‘Get Lost’. Wolf has also found the freedom to muck about with different styles: ‘Enchanted’ dabbles in piano jazz, while ‘The Stars’ is full of gentle, Björk-ish twinkles and hums. Best of all is the way that the whole thing’s powered by a lovestruck joy that’s a thrill to hear. His voice is positively lustful on the beautiful ‘Augustine’ and ‘Magpie’, a duet with ’60s icon Marianne Faithfull.
If you were looking for a new Bowie, Patrick Wolf is proving himself the Thin White Duke’s successor in more than just his extravagant dress sense. He swims against the tide; he’s not an everyman, he doesn’t sing about pubs, offices or discos. What he’s bursting to tell you about, though, is imagination and love. And what’s more real than that?