Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia

by Jane Bradley Rating:5 Release Date:2011-06-20

It seems that these days Patrick Wolf can do no wrong. An electro-pop media darling in glitter and gold hotpants, he seems universally beloved by everyone from hipster twats to the great and good of music and art. He's publicly transitioned from the Lycanthropy-era romantic, gentle folkster who was scared of his own shadow, to the mouthy, tantrum-throwing punk-pirate brat circa Wind in the Wires, to today's incarnation; returning with his fifth studio album, Lupercalia.

Named after a pagan fertility festival, the album is a celebration of Wolf finally finding love and happiness after a turbulent few years. And while this fairytale love affair may be beautiful, romantic and downright wonderful (marred only by the broken hearts of the 'Wolf Pack' when he announced he was to wed his boyfriend earlier this year), the dark folklore and storytelling that characterised his earlier albums are conspicuously absent on this latest record.

Lead single 'Time of My Life', released last December, is the undisputed highlight, and could have comfortably sat alongside some of earlier anthems. But provincial gay disco power ballad 'The City' is more like the upbeat closing credits of a clichéd Cameron Diaz rom-com than the Wolf's usual subversive brand of rich, atmospheric electro-pop. It may be ludicrously catchy, but so is chlamydia. Pop hooks alone are not enough.

Although there are moments on Lupercalia which got me all nostalgic for my days of obsessing over the ghosts, fairy tales and nightmares that populated Patrick's first two albums, overall Lupercalia has too many Motown and disco influences and not enough innovation.

I couldn't be happier that the Wolf man has found true love. But for now I'll leave Lupercalia and return to having strangers sympathetically assume I'm having some sort of seizure when they see me carving up discotheque dance floors to 'Tristan' or 'The Libertine'.

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