Patrick Wolf - Brumalia EP
We all have our rituals at this time of year, whether it be dressing a felled tree or stocking up on gin, but 21st century troubadour Patrick Wolf has chosen to mark midwinter with a new EP. Entitled Brumalia, in ode to the Roman solstice festival, this seven-track collection can be viewed as a companion piece to this year's Lupercalia album, which courted high praise and saw Wolf in high spirits of the loved-up variety. Brumalia boasts Lupercalia's most captivating cut 'Together', which underscored the album's sweeping romanticism with a pulsating electronic throb Kylie would kill for; however, while Lupercalia was inspired by an ancient festival that was the forerunner to Valentine's Day, this EP explores the shadows as well as the power of love.
Recent years have seen Wolf's orchestral pop visions expand, resulting in joyous singles like 'The Magic Position' and 'The City'. 'Time Of Year' witnesses Wolf breaking out the strings, horns and more to craft an alt. Christmas song that doubles up as an anti-war protest. The seasonal theme continues on 'Jerusalem', a hymnal interpretation of a William Blake poem that strips everything back to piano and vocals. Although the brooding 'Bitten' achieves a theremin-aided sense of the epic, following its first three big statement tracks Brumalia is largely restrained in comparison to Wolf's last three albums. This represents a nice change of pace, although fans will know that 'restrained' is a relative term in Wolf's world as experimental percussion and harsh beats are employed on 'Nemoralia' and iPad-assisted creation 'Pelicans'. Closer 'Trust' is a personal love song that retains its diary entry purity even with plucked harp, accordion and woodwind, forming a perfect circle back round to Lupercalia.