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The Magic Position

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Album Review

Brooding, multi-talented indie prince Patrick Wolf lets a little sunshine in on his third full-length album, the undeniably catchy but highly unstable The Magic Position. Released in 2005, Wind in the Wires struck a nice balance between eerie British folk-inspired imagery/instrumentation and general home-recorded electronic cacophony. It was a deeply personal, slightly guarded, and occasionally brutal slice of brain tissue that promised great things from the young singer/violinist. That skull is open to the public on The Magic Position, and while the results can be a little spotty, the exhibit itself is impossible to ignore. Wolf is blissfully unafraid of pomp and circumstance, an observation lent weight by the pulse-quickening opener, "Overture." With its refrain of "Come on, open wide and let some light in," it's the perfect litmus test for potential listeners, as what follows is essentially the equivalent of a walk in the rain with the sun peeking out and the umbrella in the trash. The songs are more vibrant and confident (even danceable) than anything he's released in the past. The title cut, with its mechanical Motown-inspired backbeat and strings, avoids the twee-soul of Belle & Sebastian by hinging on Wolf's deep baritone. It, like much of the record, juggles irony and hope with lust and love in a way that dismisses the opinions of the masses without insulting them. That occasionally barbed baritone is what keeps Wolf with one foot so firmly planted in the dark and, like late-'80s Depeche Mode, it's the juxtaposition between the two worlds that keeps things so interesting. The Magic Position loses a little focus near the end, but flashes of inspired lunacy like the jarring arrival of a spectral Marianne Faithfull on the spooky "Magpie" help to make this unpredictable collection of Victorian-peaked electro/folk-pop so hard to dislike.

Biography

Born: 1983 in County Cork, Ireland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Violinist/singer/songwriter Patrick Wolf began experimenting with sound at the age of 11. While his peers were exploring the frivolity of youth, the precocious preteen was dabbling in four-track recording, eventually building an arsenal of instruments that included junk-shop organs and a home-built theremin. At the age of 14 he joined the pop art collective Minty, a venture that caught the eyes and ears of Fat Cat Records, which went on to supply the youth with a computer and mixing tools for aid...
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The Magic Position, Patrick Wolf
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