Patrick Wolf, 'Lupercalia' (Hideout/Mercury)

Critical Mass
Release Date: June 20, 2011
Label: Hideout/Mercury

by Barry Walters

Like the Killers' Sam's Town -- on which frontman Brandon Flowers played a grandiose, Old West troubadour -- Patrick Wolf's fifth album is an insanely melodramatic and heartfelt record from a quintessential aesthete. Lupercalia's well-orchestrated bravado suggests a fussy approximation of abandon rather than something truly from the gut, but to his credit, the British multi-instrumentalist doesn't pretend to rock. Strings dominate, horns replace synths, and it's the unabashed disco of "Together" that delivers the money shot, as Wolf celebrates overwrought European desire thesame way Springsteen exalts cars and girls.

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