Plumbiferous Media

The Bachelor - Patrick Wolf

Jun 7th 2009
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The Bachelor - Patrick WolfPatrick Wolf
The Bachelor
Score: 50








Patrick Wolf is a rather col­or­ful indi­vid­ual, not to men­tion musi­cian - just look at the out­fit he sports on the cov­er of his newest album, The Bach­e­lor. Wolf hasn’t lost any of the cre­ativ­i­ty he dis­played on his ear­li­er albums, and he’s reached a new lev­el of inspi­ra­tion on The Bach­e­lor which rais­es it above his ear­li­er work, though The Bach­e­lor is still far from per­fect.

The Bach­e­lor begins with Wolf’s sig­na­ture synth and dig­i­tal work, mixed well with acoustic and even clas­si­cal over­tones. “Hard Times” uses a sim­ple rhythm gui­tar line that grows steadi­ly in vol­ume and adds a desir­able lay­er to the track, as well as the more audi­ble vio­lin that pro­vides the track’s inter­est­ing melody. The next track, “Obliv­ion,” con­tin­ues the cre­ative use of clas­si­cal and pure­ly syn­thet­ic instru­ments by cre­at­ing com­ple­men­tary, alter­nat­ing lines. Still, ele­ments like the heavy, plod­ding of “The Bach­e­lor” or the close to wail­ing tone that Wolf’s voice reach­es on “Obliv­ion” can cause tracks to seem over­ly dra­mat­ic.

But as the album pro­gress­es, Wolf moves fur­ther away from the mix of acoustic and syn­thet­ic sounds. And with­out the com­bi­na­tion that ear­li­er pro­vid­ed con­trast, tracks like “Who Will?” which uses an organ and Wolf’s nor­mal slew of dig­i­tal per­cus­sion and synth, become repet­i­tive to vary­ing degrees.

Patrick Wolf’s vocals on The Bach­e­lor fluc­tu­ate between depth and an elec­tron­i­cal­ly tuned sub­lim­i­ty, occa­sion­al­ly near­ing inspi­ra­tion but nev­er reach­ing per­fec­tion. Through­out the album, his vocals are scat­tered with sam­ples and effects, rang­ing from the well-suit­ed if some­what odd sam­ple which intro­duces “Thick­ets” to the buzzing which per­vades “Who Will?” Shrill­ness or harsh­ness in a num­ber of tracks pre­vents Wolf’s vocals from being as cap­ti­vat­ing as they could be. At their best, as on “Count of Casu­al­ty,” where his vocals are well-suit­ed to a light instru­men­tal line, Wolf suc­ceeds in using his some­what eccen­tric voice to dis­tin­guish The Bach­e­lor.

Along with Wolf’s rather unique vocals comes an equal­ly dis­tinct lyri­cal pres­ence. Though the over­all image of the album is of romance, each of the indi­vid­ual tracks is rather sur­re­al. Wolf intro­duces cryp­tic fig­ures through­out The Bach­e­lor, from the pos­si­bly bib­li­cal Damaris to the young min­is­ter, who he exhorts to “Wake.” From the tit­u­lar “Bach­e­lor,” which reads like an expla­na­tion of Wolf him­self to “Count of Casu­al­ty,” which weaves a con­vo­lut­ed web around the char­ac­ter of the title, Wolf has com­bined pithy lines like “Do not fear obliv­ion” with the more sen­ti­men­tal “God damn Damaris / Killed with last kill / God damn Damaris / I loved you.” With these fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ters, inter­twined with the sub­jects which seem to fas­ci­nate Wolf, The Bach­e­lor is a deep if often con­fus­ing post­mod­ern exer­cise. It, how­ev­er, at the same time suf­fers from rep­e­ti­tion which weak­ens Wolf’s strong imagery, as well as an occa­sion­al incom­pre­hen­si­bil­i­ty which equal­ly damp­ens the imagery.

The Bach­e­lor is cer­tain­ly a very inter­est­ing work, but its cre­ativ­i­ty is not always enough to sus­tain it. Along with the cre­ativ­i­ty, Wolf pro­vides fre­quent rep­e­ti­tion, sharp sounds, and lack­ing melodies, none of which help The Bach­e­lor along. In the end, the good and bad qual­i­ties all but can­cel each oth­er out, and though Wolf has sur­passed his pre­vi­ous works in many tracks on The Bach­e­lor, the album as a whole is quite sim­ply mediocre.


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