Patrick Wolf: The Bachelor

Music Reviews Patrick Wolf
Patrick Wolf: The Bachelor

Disco-punk, Tilda Swinton and lack of cohesion highlight first half of double concept album

Patrick Wolf’s The Bachelor is the first half of a double concept album originally titled Battles. The reason for the split was Wolf’s desire to “not overload people with too much,” a concern borne out by the album’s already-overstuffed composition. The Bachelor is a concept album without much of a concept—unless you consider world-weary lassitude and boilerplate populist outrage to be coherent narrative material. Histrionic voiceovers courtesy of arthouse icon Tilda Swinton are the only unifying threads to this tale of vague discontent about the modern age’s woes.

The sheer depth of Wolf’s ear for orchestration buoys the weak setup. His odds-and-ends approach to songwriting from Lycanthrope and The Magic Position blossoms into a spellbinding sonic barrage on The Bachelor. The album kicks off with the one-two punch of the fist-pumping disco-punk anthem “Hard Times”, followed by the claphappy string-drenched “Oblivion”. Elsewhere, Wolf conscripts electronica guru Alec Empire for twitchy stabs at trance (“Vulture”) and a Reznor-esque stampede across the industrial soundscape (“Battle”). There’s little here in the way of cohesion, but Wolf demonstrates a nuanced affection for his craft that’s easy to appreciate.

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