Patrick Wolf - Wind in the Wires (Cover Artwork)

Patrick Wolf

Wind in the Wires (2005)


If the kids on "The OC" were poor goth kids instead of rich hipsters, then I wouldn't be surprised if Patrick Wolf would be as popular as Conor Oberst is right now. Mr. Wolf in general is a little hard to fully understand and take in. He was "found" as a child by art collective Minty and record label Capital K. They gave him a computer to record on and a plethora of synthesizers to play with. His prodigal childhood and effeminacy ultimately lead to much bullying. This uncertainty is shown in some of his songs, which are full of hope. He also tends to occasionally dress up in a dress to perform, making him stand out from all the other sweater-vest indie rockers of today.

Patrick Wolf is doing everything he can to hone his craft. He recently got a degree in composition of music from Trinity College, which is showcased in his vocal range, live and in the studio. His songwriting is extremely dark and brooding. On this album, the mood is brought on from the moment you buy the disc. His label, Tomlab records (Cologne), really went all out on the nostalgic black and white photos and elaborate CD art.

The melodies are haunting as well, which is made apparent by the haunting melody on (in my opinion, the album's best track) "Teignmouth." In my many years of listening to music, I have never heard such a strange array of music instruments as on this album. OK, wait for it...synthesizers (iBook), viola/violin, ukulele, drum, accordion, organ, and acoustic guitar. The strangeness only makes Wind in the Wires more interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Wolf utilized an entire orchestra on his next release.

What may surprise many is the maturity of Mr. Wolf's lyrics, which gives it a poetic quality that far surpasses his age (I read "The Railway House" at my Thanksgiving dinner). I can imagine Patrick sitting solemnly at a piano surrounded by candles in a dimly lit room. This aspect of his music is brought out on tracks like "The Gypsy King" and "Ghost Song." After every listen I still can't get over how good of a singer he is. The aesthetic quality of his voice brings out the emotion in songs like "This Weather." The violin also adds a mournful tone to tracks as well as the electronic grind of songs like "Apparition" and "Jacob's Ladder." If only certain Halloween soundtracks would only take a nod from Patrick Wolf, then I would truly be spooked (since when did Killswitch Engage become scary? Oh sorry, I forget Adam Dutkiewicz).

What makes this album not a perfect 10 but a 9 is the truly horrific electronic vomit at the end of "Jacob's Ladder" makes me want to vomit…oh well, he is only 21. He has received some press for being a jewel thief but has since been exonerated. He also keeps in touch with fans, not on a blog, but with a monthly letter he scribbles down on paper and scans onto his website.