Not one to be satisfied with a cake and some candles, Patrick Wolf has marked the 10th anniversary of his debut album Lycanthropy by re-recording 16 tracks from his back catalogue to create an acoustic double album. He calls it a “make-under,” designed to show off the skeleton of the music, but there’s still plenty of greasepaint smeared over the impressively sharp cheekbones of these songs. Divided into two halves – Sundark is melancholia, bitterness and introspection, Riverlight is love and euphoria – the collection polishes Wolf’s romanticism to a burnished glow, exposing the rich grain of cabaret and folk beneath the glittery pop opulence. The more serious songs are most efficiently served by this treatment – “The Libertine,” from 2005′s Wind In The Wires, flaunts new levels of Klezmer-tinged drama, while “Paris,” from Lycanthropy, is stripped of its electronic static, all the better to revel in its tears (“The bath was spilling over/ My self-pity spilling with it”). The happier moments also flourish, however, with both “House” and “The Magic Position” given a freshly painted backdrop of emotional veracity. Where Wolf goes from here is anyone’s guess, but if this is spring cleaning, then the summer of his career looks set to shine.
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