What a wonderful piece of luck that myspace grants us the opportunity to listen to Patrick Wolf's album in full before it even comes out. That allows sceptics like me to ponder and make up their minds whether it will be worth investing in. For despite my exuberant love for Patrick's music, my affection has definitely trended OFF him - as a person, as a concept, as a product - ever since The Magic Position came out. I had high hopes for this album, initially, but was bitterly disappointed, and indeed quite shocked, when I heard and saw the new single Vulture (for it struck me as sensationally crap, as sorry as I am to say that.)
Now, the new album certainly isn't that bad. Some of the it sounds a bit like the soundtrack to a cheapo celtic-style fantasy film - which is to a certain extent appreciable as a sort of guilty pleasure, maybe. Some of it - portions, that do not really deserve the term "song" - just sounds like self-indulgent electro wank, and in some places he even seems to have jumped on the Eurovision Bandwagon and gone all balkan fiddle pop! But in between there's moments of grandeur that possibly make up for the visual side of Patrick's new corporate design. Yes, yes, it is lovely to re-invent oneself with each new album, but must the reincarnation really be an S&M rent boy with the worst taste in leather outfits imaginable? It chars my heart to see the gentle, aesthetic person that I have known and loved since the Wind in the Wires era constantly force himself into shapes that seem artificial and somehow untrue (although the real situation probably is more like: they do not correspond to how I would like to see him.)
It crossed my mind that what we see in the Vulture video could possibly be meant to be ironic, or even "critical of society" ... but the former doesn't sound like Patrick, he's much too earnest for irony. And in case it's the latter, it's not a very successful attempt, I'm afraid. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to come across as all scandalised and puritan, it's just that I sense a certain discord within Patrick himself. I mean you can't prostrate yourself wearing nothing but leather straps around your genital area like that in your video, and then act all offended and sulk like a huffy little boy because somebody yells "Get your cock out!" at one of your gigs, because you're a "serious musician" and don't want to put up with that. There's something awry there!
But enough of this rant, for The Bachelor is actually really good. It will need a couple of listens, and it will have to be had on vinyl, to enable the greatest possible appreciation of the music - which is really, in some ways, a return to great moments of Wind in the Wires and B-side highlights. I wish this would also be reflected in the non-musical side of it all, the show, the style, the visuals. But maybe this is simply an album to listen to with your eyes closed. And make sure you always skip the penultimate track. ;)