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Rufus Wainwright - Want Two


Review: Jack Foley

IF RADIOHEAD'S Thom Yorke suddenly decided to go solo and pen ballads with an almost classical feel then Rufus Wainwright's Want Two is exactly what it might sound like.

A follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Want One, the album is an ambitious journey through Wainwright's personal experiences that emerge like mini-operettas to either impress or turn off listeners.

Certainly an acquired taste, the album undoubtedly offers some exceptional highs, as well as the odd moment that's likely to leave people scratching their heads in bewilderment.

Picking up pretty much where Want One left off (a number of the songs on the album were recorded as part of the original recording sessions), Want Two is a deeply heartfelt look at love, life and the things which threaten it, such as drug abuse and media exploitation.

It is populated by musical flourishes, such as string orchestras and cheery choirs, yet occasionally keeps an eye on the mainstream by delivering the odd song of instant accessibility.

Download-only single, The One You Love, for instance, rates among the best efforts, with its easy guitar riffs and breezy chorus.

While the piano-drenched ballad, Waiting For A Dream, is an anthemic delight - a track rich in atmospheric beats, emotive lyrics and Wainwright's vocals at their most haunting (and Yorke-like, especially when delivering the 'there's a fire... line).

Such moments truly provide a showcase for Wainwright's unique talent, yet almost become offset by some of the more adventurous artistic flourishes.

Opening track, Agnus Dei, is a particularly obscure start - its Middle Eastern flavours and Wainwright's tortured vocals threatening to alienate new listeners from the outset.

While the deliberately emotive Gay Messiah lacks the punch it really ought to, given the content of some of the lyrics.

And in tracks such as Little Sister, Wainwright veers towards the camp with mixed results.

Considered as a whole, therefore, the album presents a mixture of emotions - some uplifting, others disappointing - which certainly mark Wainwright out as one of the most challenging of the moment.

Whether he is 'the chosen one' as some critics have hailed him, however, is very much open to interpretation.

Undoubtedly talented, the singer-songwriter clearly has a lot to offer for the more discerning listener, yet occasionally becomes undone by his own ambition.

Rufus Wainwright

Track listing:
1. Agnus Dei
2. The One You Love
3. Peach Trees
4. Little Sister
5. The Art Teacher
6. Hometown Waltz
7. This Love Affair
8. Gay Messiah
9. Memphis Skyline
10. Waiting For A Dream
11. Crumb by Crumb
12. Old Whore's Diet
13. Coeur De Parisienne - Reprise d'Arletty - Live (UK Bonus Track)
14. Quand Vous Mourez de Nos Amours - Live (UK Bonus Track)

Rufus Wainwright

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