The techno-pop of previous albums is shed in favor of the moody minimalism of string and piano arrangements.
Review by David Feltman
English singer/songwriter, Patrick Wolf celebrates his 10th anniversary as a musician with a double album retrospective that revisits and reimagines 16 of his songs. Sundark and Riverlight is really more of a double EP than a double LP, with each side containing eight tracks and clocking in right at an hour total.
The collection discovers a lot of fresh angles on familiar tracks. The Sundark half strips its song list to the bone. The techno-pop of previous albums is shed in favor of the moody minimalism of string and piano arrangements. The results range from gothic Nick Cave-ian folk on “Vulture” to big and boisterous orchestral pop on “Hard Times.” The variety of flavors on display is impressive. Tracks like “The Libertine” are explosive, while others, like “Wind in the Wire” and “Oblivion,” feel naked and vulnerable in the absence of their electronic veneer.
The Riverlight half follows the Sundark tack of casting its songs in strings rather than synthesizers, but where Sundark is brooding, Riverlight can be downright bubbly. Songs like “The Magic Position” and “Bermondsey Street” don’t feel terribly different from the originals. But losing the techno touches gives them a surprisingly fuller sound.
Sundark and Riverlight is a great album, however, it may be a little misleading for those outside the “Wolf Pack.” While the track list is a serviceable “best of” for newcomers, the new arrangements aren’t entirely representative of Wolf’s oeuvre. But with that minor warning aside, it’s great to see Wolf pushing himself in new directions. Ten years is plenty of time for a musician to fall into a rut, but Wolf seems dedicated to continued innovation.
You can find more about Patrick Wolf at his official website or on Facebook.