Saturday, July 16, 2011

Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia

Patrick Wolf's last album, The Bachelor, was dark and heavy.  His image was significantly more glam than usual, and the music mirrored this.  The Bachelor was originally part of Battle, a double album.  Part two would be The Conqueror, released one year after part one.  That was two years ago. The Conqueror was never fully developed and the title transformed into Lupercalia.  Lupercalia is the complete opposite of The Bachelor.  It still has that orchestral electro-folk sound that Patrick is known for, but the mood has changed.  The title is a celebration and the album is easily one of this year's happiest records.  Joy and love is the common theme with almost every track on Lupercalia.

Lupercalia's opening track, "The City", is driven by a pounding beat and a blaring saxophone.  The lyrics are a good sign of what's to come, "Won't let this city destroy our love...".  Patrick's general mood is something along the lines of "nothing else matters as long as I have you".  You can hear it in his voice and you can see it in the accompanying video for "The City".

The album's instrumentals are beautiful on their own.  A mix of horns, piano, violin, and harp create a somewhat nostalgic feeling.  Bouncing beats are prominent on many tracks, creating a vibe of sentimental pop music.  "Together" pushes into a more dance oriented direction with bleeping synths. The quirky use of oddball instruments are reminiscent of Imogen Heap.

"William" may be the source of Patrick's overwhelmingly optimistic music.  William is the name of his husband.  They entered a civil partnership together during the making of Lupercalia and the track is a small interlude where he asks, "William, will you be my conqueror?".  That relationship is reflected in the music and gives it a euphoria of life.

Lupercalia manages to avoid the melodramatic cheesy territories while still capturing a sensual and blissful mood.  It's filled with distinct melodies and beaming lyrics that never seem to wear out.  If you need a bright record to improve your summer, then Lupercalia is your answer.

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