Patrick Wolf

The Bachelor

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Immaculately coiffed London-based glam-dance antihero Patrick Wolf's fourth album picks right up where 2007's Magic Position left off, albeit with a darker palette of colors to paint from. Wolf's penchant for brooding British folk melodies pasted into a nightmarish cradle of apocalyptic techno-chicanery has never been more manipulative than on The Bachelor. Where Magic Position was light beating back darkness, The Bachelor is revolution succumbing to chaos. Taking a cue from all three of his previous releases, Wolf's theatricality can be smothering, especially on the album's first half. Opening with a flurry of white noise ("Kriegspiel") that essentially goes nowhere, The Bachelor launches strong with first single "Hard Times," a full-throttle classically charged anthem that will feel familiar to those who found their way to Wolf through songs like "The Libertine" or "Accident & Emergency." A similar approach is taken on songs like "Oblivion" and "Battle" -- the latter would have fit comfortably on any of the post-BrokenNine Inch Nails albums -- but it's the quieter numbers that garner the biggest emotional response. Tracks like "Thickets," "The Sun Is Often Out," and the slow-building title cut deftly straddle the line between maturity and defiance, striking a natural balance that calls to mind the lush chamber pop of Antony and the Johnsons. Wolf has often stated that he has no allegiance to styles when it comes to recording, but The Bachelor feels most alive when it's wallowing in its own dusky ruin.

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