Patrick Wolf isn’t known for being understated, and from the opening of this album it is clear that he is out to arrest his listener’s attention. The fast-paced strings and ominous tones of both -Hard Times’ and -Oblivion’ are striking enough without even considering the obvious rhetoric of revolt that permeates the record.
As a violin player Wolf can’t seem to help but base much of his music around a leading string section; it is a quirk that has set him aside from guitar-hugging peers and the novelty of his sound still manages to hold its charm.
Yet it is piano that comes to the fore and a range of strong, clear-to-gravely vocals that provide the energy in the rousing country and blues tinged title track, -The Bachelor’. Such continually dramatic material does become exhaustive however, and after the call-to-arms of -Damaris’ the woodland-themed -Thickets’ is left sounding just a little silly. -Count of Casualty’ returns to the string-based, anti-war formula of before, and although this becomes slightly wearing it is when combining classical and electronic elements in such an energetic fashion that Wolf is at his best. The tinkling piano of -Blackdown’ might appear as a refreshing change at first but this quieter track proves not to be particularly interesting, and its traditional Irish influence verges on cringeworthy.
The Bachelor has moments of brilliance which are testaments to Wolf’s talent, but it is a genius that is difficult to take seriously throughout the entire album.