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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