Magical tales and fairy godmothers

<strong>The Magic Position</strong>

Patrick Wolf


Patrick Wolf is often tipped as an alternative musician who is destined to break into the mainstream. That he has not yet actually done so is a blessing, as it means he can spend his time making intense and extraordinary music, rather than having to promote himself on telly.

Superficially, Wolf has much in common with Mika, the new pop sensation sweeping the British charts with his single "Grace Kelly". Both are classically trained 23-year-old men, both live in London, and both are prone to wearing weird and wonderful clothes. But while Mika is all about camping it up and showing off, Wolf's interest is in pushing down, going deep into places that music doesn't usually venture.

"Overture", the opening song on this, his third album, returns to the electronic sound of Wolf's early releases. The laptop contributions continue throughout, notably on "Secret Garden", with its blast of computer-generated white noise. But it is the more beautiful instrumentation that remains with you long after the record has finished; Wolf plays a staggering number of instruments.

"Augustine" could have been written by a younger Nick Cave, with its subdued, late-night piano chords. The joyful title song is somewhat anomalous - as he himself points out in the lyrics, "I'm singing in the major key", an unusual act for someone usually drawn to full moons and melancholic escapism. But the album stealer is "Magpie", a duet with Marianne Faithfull, who comes in with some words of wisdom. "Magpie, I am lost among the hinterland," he wails. "Little boy, little boy, lost and blue," she replies, and advises him that he has to run home. This is one for all those who still harbour a secret yearning for magical tales and fairy godmothers.

This article first appeared in the 19 February 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Iran - Ready to attack