Album: Patrick Wolf, Lupercalia (Mercury / Hideout)

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The Independent Culture

A billion banalities have been written and sung in the name of "love", so it takes a special kind of artist to infuse that word with freshness and vitality.

Patrick Wolf, who is pictured inside the booklet of his fifth album with a heart-shaped bindi painted between his eyebrows, is the man for the task. Mustering all the positivity that befits a man set to enter a civil partnership with his boyfriend, Lupercalia sees the multi-talented Mr Wolf moving away from the sometimes-dark territories of The Bachelor back in the direction of his pop classic The Magic Position.

The sound is paradoxically lavish but understated: string sections and pianos are ever-present but always subtle. The one thing that's unfailingly extravagant is Wolf's sense of melody, from the strident "Time of My Life" to the gentle "The Days". The perfect soundtrack for early summer, and all the possibilities it holds.