Patrick Wolf The Bachelor (Bloody Chamber Music)

PART-FUNDED through the online music investment project Bandstocks - anyone can buy a share for a tenner - Patrick Wolf's fourth album features collaborations with actress Tilda Swinton, folkie Eliza Carthy, and multi-instrumentalist and all-round hipster Matthew Herbert. Mostly it's a mixture of operatic electro-pop and Brechtian torch songs flavoured with whatever David Sylvian and Billy McKenzie were supping during the 1980s heyday of Japan and The Associates. Swinton's typically leftfield contribution is a spoken word part on Theseus, while penultimate track Battle refers to the East Sussex town in which Wolf recorded the album. Wolf's background in various avant garde musical projects, the theatricality of his stage show and his roster of collaborators certainly make him an interesting proposition. But beyond the title track and a few others - Damaris, Thickets - there's little here that justifies the excitement. Fans of The Blue Nile will probably love it, though. Barry Didcock

Spare Snare I Love You, I Hate You (Chute)

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YOU can rely on Spare Snare not to make a show of themselves. Even though the Dundonian outfit were once voted Scotland's 45th greatest band and have racked up eight albums, it's more than possible - probable even - that you've never heard of them. Listen to I Love You, I Hate You and it's clear why. Not so much lo-fi as no-fi, Spare Snare sound like a band designed to record John Peel sessions (back when that was still an option - in fact they did four). The sound is scuffed-up and scuzzy indie with a dressing of grungy psychedelia and, for all its modesty, it's sonically adventurous. On the downside, Jan Burnett's vocals are just too dourly monochrome and the songs are, well, not really there. At just under 40 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome and it does pick up as it goes along. But you do suspect that even if Spare Snare were invited to pop's party, they'd spend the night sitting in the corner talking to each other. Teddy Jamieson

On Guard For Peace Prokofiev/RSNO (Chandos)

LET'S be honest. Despite the stout, if slightly apologetic, defence launched in the sleeve note to this disc, Prokofiev's 10-movement patriotic oratorio, On Guard For Peace, textually and philosophically, is Soviet propagandist tripe. There are good tunes, blazing, primary-coloured harmonies, and a rich harmonic and melodic sweep that give it the feel of a soundtrack to a Hollywood movie. Neeme Jarvi, below, and the RSNO are in incandescent form, and the RSNO Junior Chorus is blindingly idiomatic (the grown-up chorus rather less so). Also on this disc is the symphonic suite adapted by Michael Berkeley from the unrealised film, The Queen Of Spades. Haunted by Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony and the Eighth Piano Sonata, it is infinitely superior music. Michael Tumelty

Broken Records Until The Earth Begins To Part (4AD)

EDINBURGH'S Broken Records have created quite a buzz since they formed in 2006. NME called them one of the country's most exciting new bands, The Guardian loves them and they wowed the T Break stage at T in the Park. But before any of this goes to their heads, let's get one thing straight. It is not all right to sound like The Waterboys, even if you also sound quite like Arcade Fire. Worse than that, this record is so damned overblown. The serious strings, frilly pianos and histrionic falsettos all feel like proclamations of self-importance that could well be the result of listening to the wrong Tim Buckley albums. Things get better when they lay this aside on Eastern-flavoured belters Eilert Loevborg and A Good Reason, and there's certainly enough great musicianship elsewhere to promise a fine live show. But if we don't nip things in the bud now, they'll be making videos on mountain tops and prancing around in catsuits quicker than you can say Freddie Mercury. Steven Vass