Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Patrick Wolf

August 1, 2007

Patrick WolfThe Magic Position

It appears that a bit of a mini-cult has sprung up around Patrick Wolf. And why not? Listening to his unique brand of cabaret/folk/rock, you get the impression that each track has its own elusive legend behind it. Delivered by a red haired pixy with a startling croon, even songs that embrace the standards of pop get twisted in fantastic ways.
The Magic Position is Wolf’s bid for stardom and, subsequently, it’s easily his most accessible release to date. One need only listen to the stomping title track, which practically drips with pop polish, to realize this. Meanwhile, “Accident & Emergency” dives deeper into straight-ahead synth-pop than ever before, and “Get Lost” ups the tempo and offers a dazzling pop melody. Best of all is the moody “Bluebells.” Over a bed of fireworks and ominous guitar, the track’s a slow building melodrama with a gorgeous melody. Elsewhere, Wolf doesn’t stray too far from the gypsy folk he’s known for. “Magpie” and “Stars” are the most successful of these efforts, the former an excellent autumnal duet with Marianne Faithfull.
In fact, the record is remarkably consistent. Even a handful of pointless interludes don’t interrupt the majestic sound that The Magic Position presents. Although the album’s cover depicts the sprightly Wolf posed dramatically on a colorful carousel, you’re just as likely to find him crouching in some derelict, gothic castle out in the country somewhere. It’s this duality that makes the record successful, and marks Wolf as a genuine star in the making. He may be a cult artist now, but The Magic Position should see that cult begin to grow.

Nick James

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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