The immensely gifted Patrick Wolf is back in business with his upcoming fifth album, Lupercalia. And as you might expect from this shape-shifter, it’s entirely different from whatever he’s done before. Gone are the flamboyant costumes and choruses of old, and in place of them is a simple honesty and joyous pop that could only come from a man who’s seen the light of love. True enough, Patrick’s engaged to be married and Lupercalia is scattered with themes both happy and openly romantic. He tells The Observer: “I wanted nothing to feel artificial on this album at all. I wanted to document my joy as naturally as possible… It was time to grow up and change.”
And Patrick has indeed done a whole lot of growing up and changing. He began life in 2003 as an electro-folk troubadour trawling London’s underground circuit with debut Lycanthropy and sophomore Wind in the Wires – both gothic outings dotted with medieval folklore and fairy tales. Then came The Magic Position in 2007, the album that saw Patrick give in to a palette of glam-pop, feathers and leopard prints, and that worked in raising his profile in both the music and fashion worlds. It marked his first commercial success and even earned him a spot in in Burberry’s A/W 07 campaign (shot by Mario Testino). And what does Mr. Wolf decide do next? He releases The Bachelor, a bold and challenging album of industrial folktronica that was unerring in its dark and apocalyptic vision. Not the easiest thing to sit through, but a critically lauded effort (even Lady Gaga’s a fan) that underlined Patrick’s talent, imagination and eccentric take on pop.
Patrick’s wayward muse remains tireless on Lupercalia, where stripped of the melodrama that characterised his past outings, his sheer optimism and sincerity take center stage on this labour of love. And however much a collection of love songs it may be, the album is still anchored by a goldmine of ingenuity and unconventionality that could only come from Patrick. As he tells it, “Songs about love are obviously the most common theme in pop music, but I wanted to approach it in a way that hadn’t been done before. I strive to be original – it’s one of my biggest ambitions.”
by The Kid