November 19, 2004

Review: "Rufus Wainwright's "Want Two"

Rufus Wainwright just released his new album Want Two, the companion piece to my favorite record of 2003. The results are a bit... weird. I think I would have a much stronger reaction to the album had he not released a third of it (and many of the best songs) this summer on itunes. Because I know those songs so well, I skip over them and the CD seems disjointed.

Want Two is bookended by two songs I think are a somewhat self-indulgent. Old Whore's Diet isn't really much of a song at all, with negligible lyrics, yet it goes for 9 minutes. It even features an unusual, quivering guest vocalist, Antony. Slightly better is the Latin Agnus Dei, but how many times can one play it? It's the type of track the True Sophisticated Fans will wax on about, but it after several listens I admit that it grates on me.

In between are some real gems: the summer EP featured two of his finest songs in Waiting For A Dream and the moody, classical This Love Affair. Both have his usual dry wit and tendency for melodrama mixed with amazing production. Just listen to the way each line of his vocals are treated on Waiting. Gorge!

Among the newly released songs, I love the concert oldie Little Sister, an autobiographical memory of playing piano as a child with his little sister Martha. It literally sounds like a track lifted from a Masterpiece Theater Christmas special, if there was such a thing, and it has great lyrics:

Little sister come and sit beside me, beside me
And we'll play a tune on this old piano forte
Just for awhile, just for awhile, just for awhile
'Til your hair becomes a powdered wig
And I become a total bastard
Feet that hardly reach the pedal
Sewn to a tremendous shadow
Ave ave history is on my side

The One You Love is string-free, straightforward pop rock. If they delete the "fuck" from it, radio could play it, though you just know they won't in this day of the Red State. I doubt many places will even sell an album with the male singer in drag on the cover - one who sings a song called Gay Messiah. Whatever - Rufus' appeal is that he caters to an off-the-rails crowd, not the mainstream. I wonder if we'll look back on the last few records and say this was his golden age? One genius release after another.

Want Two sampler on Amazon


ADD said...

You NEED to submit this stuff to a music 'zine and get thyself published. Too good to squander in the limited blogosphere.

small squirrel said...

my blog is becoming a testament to Rufus.
and ann is right... you need to think about being a freelance music columnist!