Album: Patrick Wolf, Lupercalia (Hideout)

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The Independent Culture

Patrick Wolf is perennially tipped for success, but after four previous albums it's questionable whether his idiosyncratic talent – which here combines dulcimer, Ondes Martenot and baritone ukulele with a flamboyant romanticism – will find a niche in mainstream affections.

Originally planned as the second half of a double-album, Lupercalia is his most approachable effort, with the parochial Englishness of "The City", "Bermondsey Street" and "House" ("I love to hear those conkers fall / Smash them all on Southwark stone") owing less to the dry irony of Ray Davies and Squeeze than to the bombast of Springsteen, as if Wolf wants to devise a homegrown equivalent of Bruce's blue-collar street-opera. But despite evocative lines about his "silverfish kitchen", "Slow Motion" is a wallow too far.

DOWNLOAD THIS: The City; House; Bermondsey Street