I’m very happy to have been asked to cover the new Patrick Wolf album for The Quietus, not least because this means I’ve been given access to downloadable review files of the finished record weeks before it will be in shops.
So I have downloaded Lupercalia (named after an ancient pastoral festival for health and fertility, which just so happens to spread neatly across Valentine’s Day), Wolf’s fifth album since 2003, and listened to it several times already. I won’t go into full details or considered prose here (I’m saving that for The Quietus), but let me just say that it’s brief (11 tracks lasting 40 minutes), upbeat, and very, very good indeed. Originally mooted as the flipside of The Bachelor’s anguished overload, Patrick has, of course, as is his wont, since declared that it evolved and changed into something different, which it doubtlessly has. That said, it still works very nicely as an inversion of the excesses of its forebear; hedonism, dismay, and woe-is-me solipsism are exorcised and replaced by redemption, romance, and affection. For some, those who crave Patrick’s dark moods and Freudian howls, this will be a bummer; for others, it will be pop joy.
Pop joy is definitely what I’m feeling. There is brass, there is Donna Summer disco, there are swooningly romantic strings, and there are numerous moments that make me feel like I’m going to burst into tears with happiness. Bermondsey Street, which I saw Wolf do live at the Thekla in Bristol, is an absolute revelation; one of the most joyous things I’ve heard in… forever. I’m hoping this can be the record that makes Patrick Wolf.
I’ll say no more for now.