Originally perceived as a political, anti-war album, but sidetracked by love and a severe bout of depression, 'The Bachelor' is now the first of two sister albums, to be followed by 'The Conquerer' in 2010. Despite Patrick Wolf's continued inclination towards the experimental, marrying classical and traditional instrumentation with electronic beats and effects, he manages to make 'The Bachelor' not just accessible but even mesmeric.
Once a busker in a string quartet, it's not surprising that strings rule all when it comes to Patrick Wolf. The bluegrass violins of the title track, the tremolo of 'Hard Times' and the soldierly lament of 'Damaris' mark just a few of the strong string arrangements that drive this album. Meanwhile, when mixed with the rock guitar of 'Oblivion' and sombre choral of 'Count of Casualty,' Wolf's use of electronics results in some of 'The Bachelor's finest moments.
Admittedly, 'The Bachelor' falters a little in the second half, waning in pace and attitude, with Tilda Swinton's spoken interludes not always delivered to Wolf's benefit. Yet, with the presence of some of Wolf's more miserable work comes an air of crude sorrow and seething defiance that give 'The Bachelor' its edge.
Smouldering with rage, disappointment, passion and revolution, 'The Bachelor' is immediately engaging and thoroughly affecting. Bring on 'The Conqueror.'