Release Date: May 30, 2011
Record label: Mercury
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
You can’t always take Patrick Wolf at his word. Two years ago, he wailed on the title track to his darkest, noisiest album to date, “I’m not going to marry in the fall/I’m not going to marry in the spring/I will never marry, marry at all. ” But as a matter of fact, he’s been sporting an engagement ring since New Year’s, and his latest album, Lupercalia, exists mostly to tell you how goddamned giddy he is about that fact.
Review Summary: Growing up, growing older, with treasure to be told.I do this thing where I pair up musicians and authors. It's not really concrete in my head; that is, I can't actually come up with a big list of paired-up artists on command. Most of the time I never actually do pair them up; the thoughts are just too fleeting to be able to follow them to a conclusion.
Originally conceived as the second part of a double album entitled Battle, South London singer/songwriter Patrick Wolf's fifth studio effort, Lupercalia, has instead been given its own star billing, two years after its intended accompaniment, The Bachelor, indicated Wolf was in a very dark place indeed. Having previously stated in his lyrics that "I'll never marry/no-one will wear my silver ring," his recent engagement shows that he's completely changed his tune, something alluded to on most of Lupercalia's 12 tracks, which unabashedly revel in the euphoria of love. It's a far cry from the usual tortured poetry that has dominated his unpredictable career, but it's a frame of mind which has helped to produce his most focused and mainstream music to date.
If [b]‘Lycanthropy’[/b] – [a]Patrick Wolf[/a]’s first album – was an exploration of how to transform oneself into another form, then [b]‘Lupercalia’[/b] is the end result of the experiment. The original Lupercalia was a pre-Roman festival to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. It was a coming together of people and community, and it’s therefore fitting that [b]‘Lupercalia’[/b] the album is a celebration too.
Long-term observers of Patrick Wolf's career may heave a sigh of relief at the news that his fifth album apparently represents a new, optimistic approach on the part of the 27-year-old singer-songwriter. As befits an album named after an ancient spring cleansing ceremony – considering the main event involved magistrates running around towns in the knack, you can't help but be grateful it died out – we are informed Lupercalia is the emotional opposite of its predecessor The Bachelor, with its grim songs about suicide and guest appearances from shouty German noise artist Alec Empire. Here, the mood is one of sparkly-eyed positivity.
Patrick Wolf has always been one of those slightly awkward artists. Unashamedly pop, but slightly too weird for the homogenised chart-swallowing masses; singing about the universal pop subjects of love, loss and general bewilderment at the world, but with almost unparalleled, stubborn specificity in the personal dramas to which the lyrics refer. In other words, he’s exactly what most people’s dream of a ‘proper’ pop star is… but with that comes a certain reputation to maintain.
Patrick Wolf is the sort of artist who elicits both pity and frustration. Since the early 2000s, he has been toiling away at consistently strange folk and electro-tinted pop music and has appeared on a number of stages in outlandish costumes. Florence and the Machine, also a purveyor of strange folk-inflected songs, became the much bigger star and much more quickly.
It is by now a truism that the work of a happy, newly partnered musician, emerging from a period of angst and personal darkness, will take a nosedive. And I’m not here to do the typical reviewer’s trick of opening with a standard expectation only to demonstrate how it’s been confounded. Lupercalia, while by no means uninteresting, can only be read (in terms of Wolf’s oeuvre) as a missed opportunity, a moment of reconciliation that could have been great, but one in which Wolf, paradoxically (in view of his newfound optimism) evincing the hubristic tragedian, allows Eros to get the better of Psyche.
For the past few years, Patrick Wolf has been looking like something of a spent force creatively. Although still gifted with an ear for a catchy hook, the stunningly/sickeningly (delete as applicable) precocious artist behind Lycanthropy and Wind in the Wires was now reduced to peddling insincere romance on The Magic Position, or, in the case of The Bachelor, burying any genuine emotion in overblown gestures (and in case the record wasn't already pretentious enough it was planned as the first part of a diptych of concept albums). So, the pre-release hype for Wolf's latest across the net, in particular from the more pop-leaning critics, was something of a surprise.
"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. The title refers to the Lupercalia festival, which is the ancient fertility and love festival that happens around Valentine's Day. I strive to be original-- it's one of my biggest ambitions. There can be nothing worse sometimes than a soppy love record-- imagine if I'd called it To Love: Patrick Wolf!" That's Patrick Wolf doing the heavy-lifting when it comes to pinpointing what went wrong with Lupercalia: It's clear he hasn't shaken off his artiste pretensions since the goth-folk of his early work, but ever since the career peak of 2005's shadowy song cycle Wind in the Wires, he seems to want pop stardom.
An all-inclusive love in from one of the UK’s most interesting pop artists. Michael Cragg 2011 Patrick Wolf rarely gives the impression of someone who creates music in a carefree fashion. At times the phrase "tortured artist" seems so crushingly apt that it's almost caricature. Lupercalia was originally meant to be the second part of a double-album, entitled Battle.