09 August 2011

Part Two: The Late Afternoon

Patrick Wolf, Lupercalia

“I want to live and let people know how to get through the challenges they face in life. This album reflects a celebration of life.” Mary J. Blige (on My Life II…The Journey Continues)

This album is magnificent. Filled with so much joy and beauty, I can’t think of any other album (this year or last) that’s made me feel as happy. Unlike certain glamorous pop singers who insist on the art beneath their confections, Wolf truly sits down at the keyboard and consistently proves himself to be the real deal. He belts it out with the training and beauty of a true artist.

This new album shows great progress since the last time we were visited by the singer. Wolf reaches into every corner of his arsenal and produces a true tour de force. It even refines the artistry of The Magic Position (the Wolf opus I love most). This feels like an album with nothing to prove except its own happiness with making music and celebrating life. Wolf mines the same pop idiom as The Magic Position with even greater energy and even more confident vocal prowess that I thought possible for him. Wolf soars with that greater confidence and rallies with more inspiring strength on this album than at any other in his career. Wolf’s bravado here is irresistible. It’s a joyous affair of love and life.

Animal Collective, Feels

There’s something hot, hazy, and delirious about this album. When it’s summer and I’m driving through the suburbs or the provinces, I want something to add that surreal edge to everything around me. Part of that reason is that it was during the summer when I first heard Feels. It helped take the edge off of the heat that made me feel so miserable and listless. It was also Virginia and the music helped me feel transported far away from the mainline Baptist surroundings that were so new to me. This is still delightfully weird music for me, but its eccentricity and easy charm relax me still. Summer is still a bitch to me, though.

Wilderness, Wilderness

Whereas Feels was blissful and hazy, Wilderness was sharp and very tense. Going down the main stretch that cut through town, the music was my shield. Surrounded by cars, concrete, trees, and businesses of many stripes, this bulldozer of sound made me feel bigger than the town. Anyone announcing with grandeur the end of freedom (in a solidly Republican town) was sure to keep my attention. It was my first late summer there so the new album and I became quick friends. As I turned to it more, the songs continued to keep the same power over me. Where Galaxie 500 made me feel like I could break away and escape or where Mogwai made me feel like this town was no more than an empty paper cup, Wilderness made me feel like I could cut through the middle of the beast. All I needed was a vision and a damning hate. This record was less a lifeboat than it was a torpedo.


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