Growing up is not easy: The road from youth to adulthood is often paved with regrets, awkwardness, and cringe-worthy events. Growing as an artist is no different, but in the case of wunderkind Patrick Wolf, it appears to have been the most natural, easy, and rewarding process one could hope to encounter. Three fantastic albums into his career and the now 24-year-old has transitioned from a self-deprecating and unsure youth into a comfortable adult, his albums acting as nothing less than self-fulfilling tour guides.
His first two records, Lycanthropy and Wind in the Wires, found Wolf as a sort of brooding neo-goth (think Antony or Nick Cave), a discontented teen concerned with maudlin topics like sexual frustration and despair. Yet instead of hiding away in his room and scribbling in a journal, Wolf wrote earnest, angst-ridden anthems. His songs are electronic at heart and very beat heavy, but it's the addition of string flurries, found-sound collages, and electronic glitches that elevate his songwriting. To top it all off, the boy can sing. It's clear, though, after one listen to either of these records that Wolf was being a tad melodramatic, and that a change was bound to come.
Enter his latest record, The Magic Position. As a personality he has transformed into a cross between David Bowie, Marc Almond, and Adam Ant—a flamboyant, androgynous, sexualized crooner with an outlandish fashion sense. But above all else, he's now officially a performer. Throwing caution to the wind and embracing all things pop, from song structures to themes to color patterns (he ditched his black hair for red, which has to stand for something, right?), these songs speak of love and happiness with such outlandish confidence that it's clear he's ditched the tormented youth of his two previous albums. Musically, this album isn't all that different from his previous work, but it is chock full of optimism, which gives it a lighter, airier feel. It's a vibe of someone shedding the skin of their former self, harnessing their attributes, and, well, growing up.