Records: Patrick Wolf “Lupercalia”

Back in March this year we here at A First Class Riot had the chance to catch Patrick Wolf showcasing his new album “Lupercalia” (out today on Mercury Records) for a small crowd in London. At the time we had already listened to a couple of great songs from the record, so expectations were high. And yet Mr. Wolf was able to meet them by unfolding a delightful collection of new songs that left us very impressed and curious for his new release.
“Lupercalia” seems to reflect a new found joy in Wolf’s life, one where domesticity and love take center stage. He has been blaming it mostly on his relationship with fiancée William Charles Pollock, but truth to be told, this is a record that has more to do with reaching maturity as an artist than any personal life changing experience. A lot more grounded than his previous offering (“The Bachelor”), “Lupercalia” offers a series of illustrious pop songs filled with unapologetic positivity without ever crossing the line into cringeworthy territories, while managing to keep a good sonic balance between experimentation and accessibility.
The album opens with the anthemic “The City”, a sunny ode to not letting any exterior factors get you down and learning to rejoice in your own relationships. Laying hook after hook, Wolf is capable of constructing a celebratory song filled with so much energy that you can’t help to see yourself tapping your feet to it. It is quickly followed by the new single “House” that continues the joyous vibe of the previous song, with dreamy orchestrations giving this utterly contagious song its very own identity. The pace seems to drop a bit for the lovely “Bermondsey Street”, an harp-driven tune about two different couples kissing in the street, that ends up pointing out that loves see no boundaries (“regardless of religion / braver than any faith / no fear of society / evolves you and me” he sings). He sounds as sincere as it gets and this moving little piece is actually one of the high moments of the record. When momentum seems to drop a bit in favor of intimacy, “Time Of My Love” comes in, a gorgeously constructed song about wishing to be happy with someone and having, well, the time of your life together. The vibe of unapologetic positivity that opened the record is in full mode and there’s an anthemic quality to the track that makes its appeal simply irresistible. Another highlight is electronic piece “Together”, something that sounds as close as it gets to Pet Shop Boys producing a Patrick Wolf song. With its straightforward synth line and grand strings it is also one of the high moments of “Lupercalia” The album ends with “The Falcons”, a song were he proclaims that “things are looking up for me, finally.” With such a contagious and smart, well crafted record under his belt, we can only agree. (9/10)

JP

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