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our score: 3.0 out of 5.0
fact that Rufus Wainwright feels he's come up with enough great
material in his sessions folllowing 2001's Poses to warrant
two full albums (the follow-up to Want, likely titled
Want Two, is rumored to pop up in the near future), as
well as Wainwright's penchant for overblown flamboyancy, one might
worry as to if Want might border on bombast and pretentiousness.
But strangely (and thankfully), upon actually listening
to Want these fears can be quickly laid to rest. In fact,
where past Wainwright releases relied on his flowery arrangements
and gorgeous voice often overshadowing the songs themselves, Wainwright's
latest release tends to downplay his propensity toward showtune
pop production and focus much more heavily on his contemporary
this is a good or bad thing will lie quite a bit in what you've
liked (or disliked) about Wainwright's past work. Songs like "Cigarettes
and Chocolate Milk" from Poses and "April Fools"
from his self-titled 1998 release portrayed Wainwright at his
most flamboyant. His broadway-inspired flair was hardly hidden,
and this embrace of said style garnered him quite a large following.
Want, on the other hand, tends to avoid going overboard
in this area - leaving Want to be a much more accessible
album than anything he's done so far.
drunken Broadway sing-song delivery of the album's finest moment,
the anthemic rock opera production of "14th Street"
does find Wainwright incorporating his vices of the past, and
heartily reminds us why Rufus Wainwright is one of the best songwriters
of this age. With a chorus that goes "Why'd you have to break
all my heart / couldn't you have saved a little bit of it?"
and a light banjo line closing it all off, it's quite a testament
to Wainwright's ability to put his everything into his music.
On the other
hand, the simple piano ballad "Pretty Things" showcases
Wainwright's lighter side. Featuring only his vocals and a piano
line, his songwriting once again shines - but it's his absolutely
gorgeous vocals that sparkle. Likewise, the classic jazz standard
style of "Harvester of Hearts" demonstrates his influences
from artists like Hoagy Carmichael and Burt Bachrach.
Yet Want does manage to falter, and is hardly Wainwright's swan
song. The move to banish some of his flamboyancies has left Want finding a bit empty in spots. And "Vibrate,"
one of the album's more sonically interesting tracks feels a bit
clumsy due to its constraints by modern cultural conventions.
Bits about Britney Spears and electroclash sound clever at first
listen, but tend to teeter on the gimmicky pop reference side
on repeated listens.
of Wainwright's work, Want is hit or miss - but when
he hits its a spectacular hit... an absolutely beautiful hit.
And given his mesmerizing voice, which has only gotten better
from album to album, the misses remain quite beautiful as well.
Oh What a World
2. I Don't Know What It Is
3. Vicious World
4. Movies of Myself
5. Pretty Things
6. Go or Go Ahead
8. 14th Street
10. Harvester of Hearts
11. Beautiful Child
14. Dinner at Eight