November 25, 2011
Album Review: Patrick Wolf - 'Brumalia'
A strange utopia with erratic hormones
7 / 10
“Sword by side we take the night”, he wails. “I see nothing without you”, he whines. “Bring me my chariot of fire”, he warbles. It’s never milk-and-one-sugar with Paddy, is it?
The south London tearaway has long been attempting the sloppy kiss of life on a drab British pop scene. Nonetheless there’s a school of thought that Patrick Wolf’s confessions are too, well, confessional for comfort. And sure, cringe at his unironic kitsch and poptastic romanticism all you like, but this is what makes Britain’s foremost pop pioneer what he is: while the Gagas are depressingly eager to airbrush away ‘personality blemishes’, Patrick occupies a strange utopia, where erratic hormones, existential dilemmas and endearing idiosyncrasies run riot under a fuck-off magnifying glass. For anyone who thought interesting lives were for other people, lurching along with him has been a genuine eye-opener.
‘Brumalia’ – a Roman festival celebrating the winter solstice – mirrors loved-up big brother LP ‘Lupercalia’, with Patrick harnessing peace of mind to look outwards. It suits him. Cosmopolitan love-triumph ‘Together’ is ‘Lupercalia’’s sole rep here, but opener ‘Bitten’ is more concerned with helping guardian angel/boyf Will find some less naff wings. Then there’s the euphoric ‘This Time Of Year’, with provocative wordplay and war imagery, while ‘Jerusalem’ – a cover of an adaptation of a William Blake poem – provides a glisteningly elegiac centrepiece.
Of course, a mote of angst lingers. “Caught in the drifting years between my youth and adulthood/Must I slow down now?” wonders the brooding ‘Pelicans’. But the point is, rather than getting hung up on Paddy’s creative indulgences, which occasionally sputter, you should be wailing, whining and warbling along with him: he’s having a good time, and it won’t last forever, you know.
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