This is staggering. Vivid, vital and aching. Joyful but riddled with doubt, brave, and oh so alive. In a landscape where skinny boys with guitars eat up column inches faster than Pete Doherty relapses, I wonder where that leaves Patrick Wolf?
You see, Patrick plays ukuleles and prepared piano amongst a host of other instruments. Yet this is no agrarian retreat, rather more John Cage than Coldplay. Its glitch-ridden beats and found sound collages sound like 2005, not 1985. This alone marks him out from the majority of his peers. Only Conor Oberst’s Bright Eyes seem to currently inhabit the same musical world. The songs are not hitched or remixed for a little leftfield cultural cache. No, here the electronic elements are a central part of the song writing process.
Wind In The Wires is self produced and he’s just 21. Does it make him a 21st century Prince? Wind In The Wires was conceived and partly recorded when Patrick fled London for Cornwall in a state of emotional turmoil. The themes of travel and escape surface and resurface through the album like buoys in a storm-ravaged sea. Trains, boats, horses and birds intertwine throughout the songs. It’s part travelogue, part personal exorcism.
The imagery of the opening track the Libertine is pure Jacques Brel. It’s a world inhabited by troubadours, magicians and preachers but rooted in the modern world. The sound is discordant but at the same time melodic. A circling violin motif, nagging white noise and a thumping beat carry the song. It dissolves into a distorted rant against false idols, cliché and addiction.
The Cornwall landscape and the winter weather seep into the musical settings. Teignmouth aches with longing, the lyric searching for somewhere to “anchor this lost soul” An attempt to find solace amid the harbour boats and sea.
The Railway House is a dream of domestic bliss set against a simple but effective unaccompanied ukulele. The uncluttered musical backdrop allows Wolf’s voice to really take flight and soar.
The sprit of Blur‘s This is a Low is rewired and rewritten on This Weather. The shipping forecast provides the inspiration. It’s a beautiful description of the faded glamour of an out of season seaside resort. The vocals start as a whisper, shrouded in radio hiss and wind in the wires. The vocals gently increase in volume, the piano playing becomes more insistent. The storm becomes a metaphor for Patrick Wolf’s desolate state of mind. The music a pressure storm in itself. “Hold back the wind, Hold back the rain, I want to live, To see good weather again” his voice defiant. The storm abating both physically and mentally.
Eulogy is the vibrant daybreak after the storm. Light in touch. The sound of confidence restored. A violin sea shanty with Patrick voice filled full of relief. Patrick Wolf is a glitch Scott Walker. Marc Almond hot-wired to Autechre‘s hard drive. He is a truly unique talent
This albums swim’s against the tide, where others are musically treading water this attempts to swim the channel. Wind in the Wire is a statement of intent. He is a poet with an ear to the future and his finger in the socket. This is a wonderful album. Buy it now, it will enrich your life.