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
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
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
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.