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Rufus Wainwright: Want Two

Rufus Wainwright: Want Two

Release Date:2004
Genre:Singer/Songwriter (Rock/Pop)

By Mark Sanders | Posted 12/15/2004

Rufus Wainwright is compulsive about bringing his personal life into the public spotlight. His lyrics are rarely veiled in obscure references or hidden metaphors, and tell of past and present struggles with love, a high-profile family life, substance abuse, and, somewhat hauntingly, his new role as de facto poster boy for gay pop stardom—a role for which Elton John is now unfit. Wainwright has been studying and reinterpreting John’s orchestral flourishes and piano hooks for years, qualities that are nowhere more apparent than on Want Two.

This follow-up to 2003’s Want One is Wainwright at his most ebullient, boasting songs that reference such disparate genres as old-time guitar jazz and the Beatles. “Peach Tree” is full of restful, Django Reinhardt-like plucking that casually contrasts with Wainwright’s evocative, multilayered harmonies. “Waiting for a Dream” showcases his contemporary influences, replacing Two’s otherwise live-performance feel with synthetic drums and a trip-hop bassline. The album’s pinnacle, the controversially titled “Gay Messiah,” confronts the issue of Wainwright’s sexuality head-on, with unflinching bravado that has become characteristic of his best work (such as Want One’s “14th Street” and his self-titled debut’s “April Fools”). On this and other tracks, Wainwright overcomes his fears and frustrations by airing them in the most public of lights. Wainwright balances the slick showmanship of a game-show host with slurred phrasings of a town drunk—eccentricities which are undoubtedly part of the artist’s allure. Lush and refined, Want Two is a grandiose outpouring of emotion from an artist who could hardly do otherwise.

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