Patrick Wolf: The Magic Position

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?

Emily Mackay