Remember when all he wanted was total chaos and a holiday home in the east? Well…
Anthony Easton: I love this. I cannot even tell you why. It’s swoony, romantic, horribly lovely: sort of Pet Shop Boys doing a soundtrack to a reboot of Brideshead Revisited, but without the edge. That should sound horrible, but it’s amazing and wonderful and unjustifiable.
W.B. Swygart: Oh fuck. How dare you hit my buttons this squarely, you cunt. You fucker. Making me think about how “The Whole of the Moon” is awesome just for its fucking size, which is fine, because it’s enormous. You utter shit, Patrick. You fucking nob-end. I want to hug somebody and waltz slowly across floorboards and celebrate the music of my childhood – Semisonic, the Connells, “Linger” and absolutely no other song by the Cranberries. Bellow this fucking chorus. Be this happy. Be this relieved. Be this sure. Feel this comfortable. This song is wonderful even if I think the first time I heard it was on the in-store radio at the supermarket, which, as with all songs on said medium, made me feel a bit stabby. Now, tonight, I’m delighted that someone else gets it too, and I feel like putting this song on headphones and crying while listening to it on public transport. You fucking bastard.
Michaela Drapes: Patrick Wolf previously painted unbridled lust and growing pains and anger and heartbreak with the boldest brushes possible; it shouldn’t be so mind-boggling that he’s pulled the grandest weapons out of his arsenal to sing about the restorative powers of true love. In the opening moments of the song, a few seconds of slightly sinister synths echo previous angst but quickly slip away to a twining, organic arrangement of New Romantic-ish bombastic strings, sprightly guitars, and splashy drums. The thing that makes me happiest here, though, is that Wolf is finally taking his voice — that massive and wonderful thing –out for a showoff-y run spanning husky whispers to soaring, unreal yawps. I realize that all the sappy lyrics might make those allergic to sentimentality mightily ill, but I am completely helpless against the charms of this new, happy version of Wolf — and for his sake, I hope it lasts.
Edward Okulicz: The piano melody could basically be ABBA, which is why Patrick Wolf’s unique tremble of a voice is initially slightly jarring on top of it. But his is a rich emotional palate; when he sings he loves something, his voice quivers a little more over the words. He also breaks into a surer croon on the magnificently soaring chorus. And not one piece of the arrangement is gratuitous or superfluous – the strings in particular are sweet, not saccharine. In fact, where The Magic Position seemed forced on its happier numbers, here Wolf wears the contentment well. Lupercalia is stuffed full of songs whose one-two punches of emotion can catch you off-guard, and this is its most gorgeous.
B Michael Payne: Patrick Wolf has a proper single? Good for him! “House” is perfectly pleasant. Its very first opening moments recall Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” which tuned my expectations in such a way as for them to be defied. This is not a pop banger. It is a perfectly fine, slightly MOR, single. While I can’t really place it among Wolf’s best songs, it may serve to get more fans into the Patrick Wolf camp.
Alfred Soto: After years of earnest electro tinkle. Wolf swipes an ABBA piano line and records a full-throated ballad. Other than the vocal similarities to the guy from OMD attempting Luther’s version of “A House is Not a Home,” he sounds fetching.
Michaelangelo Matos: I bought a ticket to the world, but now I’ve come back again. (Hi, guys!)
Zach Lyon: I like this for its personality more than its sound or musicality, strictly as a distillation of comfort, peace (obv) and what sounds like a very genuine love.
Iain Mew: Patrick has always had a way with writing grand, sweeping songs which hit with an elemental force but are still believably intimate and personal. For his second go on a major label he’s dropped some of the more ornate detailing and written some comparably straightforward love songs, but this could still be no one else. There’s a great deal of sophistication and thought in to its hymn to the possibilities brought about by the security of a relationship, but more important is the heart-on-sleeve urgency with which he sings it: never has contented domesticity sounded so bloody exciting.
Jonathan Bogart: Lovely, galloping, straining to soar but earthbound in the best possible sense (earth is really great yo). I’m almost ashamed that I just don’t get any emotion from it; its pleasures are strictly sonic, strictly understood.
Alex Ostroff: I’ll admit at the outset that it is completely impossible for me to be remotely objective about Patrick Wolf. His music is interwoven with the past seven years of my life, having acted as balm, inspiration, steel and spine at various points in time. The feral teenager of uncertain and volatile desires of Lycanthropy was everything I wouldn’t or couldn’t dare to be in high school; the pastoral static electricity of Wind in the Wires was a calm escape from the harsh realities of my parents’ divorce; and the (apologies, Patrick) flamboyant and ambiguously queer pop of The Magic Position gave me an early role model when preparing to come out. Even my attempts to sort through my post-closet post-graduation identity were soundtracked by his frustration and depression on The Bachelor. All of which is to say that some people may listen to “House” and hear Radio 2 marmite, deliberately designed for contentment and pleasantness and mothers and Tesco, and some might hear selling out and growing up and abandoning his roots. But I hear sweeping strings (impeccably arranged, as always), and the resolution of a journey that started with Lycanthropy. Our hero has run run run as fast as he can with his bedroom-built theremin, away from home, school, sexuality, and the Childcatcher. He’s run to Paris to start it all again, to lighthouses in search of identity, to cut his penis off and let no foot mark his ground. He’s wandered through the British countryside with a green tent and a violin, gotten lost and enchanted with platonic artistic loves in secret gardens, lost himself in danger and dead meat in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Berlin. And now, finally, he has ventured back to the city, full circle, having learned how to battle and how to be conquered, and finally decides to lay down his weapons in armistice, to look to the future and mark time and ground together with someone else, to build houses and homes.