"The Magic Position"
Though he may cut a dashing, albeit moppet-esque, figure in his Boy Scout-goes-glam outfits and color-coordinated tangle of hair, it's clear that former Leigh Bowery associate (and former boy genius) Patrick Wolf is doing something FAR beyond being a mere pop eccentric or a sort of sartorial Quentin Crisp for the 21st Century. Indeed no, it's his towering musical ambition that makes The Magical Position difficult for me to fucking listen to the first few times around. It's almost TOO big, the pop TOO soaring and dizzying and perfect. I need grit, grime, missed notes and the ambient hiss of a room. But Wolf has no time for that, he's too busy nipping at the heels of (to my ears at least) Bjork, U2, Jarvis Cocker, REM and Arcade Fire with his oddball symphonies, laptop Dexys fever dreams and perfectpop choruses. I'm just stunned; who am I to stand in the way of this worldbeating songcraft?
But of course, the more I listen, the more it insuates itself into my subconscious until I'm swerving the car off the road miming along to the copious hooks of Magic Position. Damn you, Wolf! What was it that sealed the deal for me? Two things: 1. The point in heartbroken waltz Augustine where he whispers "Why does love leave me/So damn cold/Now I'm getting old/Is this what it should be" Followed by a seemingly etneral pause, the music drops out, and he dramatically intones, "Well, is it?" Now THOSE are lyrics. 2. And the realization that as Wolf's vocals mature, he's starting to become a dead fucking ringer for the ever-sublime and wonderful rich baritone of Human Drama's Johnny Indovina! Fifty feet deep. Fuck yeah.
"Get Lost" is one of those rousing escape anthems, beloved of, like Bruce Springsteen and Morrissey, it's totally toy orchestra anthemic and techno baroque. "Accident and Emergency" is a song Depeche Mode would absolutely kill for. He channels his inner Scott Walker with the torch song/agorophobia sketch of "The Bluebell" sequing effortlessly into the fist pumping Scary Monsters/Talk Talk theatrics of "Bluebells." Marianne Faithful pops up to play Nico in "Magpie."
Perfect for the young and the starcrossed.
- Matthew Moyer