on 18 February 2004
I bought this album on the strength of a magazine review, having never heard of Wainwright before. I have been astounded by how good it is from the very first play. It is hard to categorise the music as it is quite unique in modern rock music. The overwheming impression is the huge joyous scale of the music. There is a richness of musical textures and an intelligence of lyrics that are totally absorbing - but not in a serious sense - it's like someone has discovered how to liberate a new facet of music - and your soul with it. If you like melody and orchestration, but with a real driving edge, you will like this. Frankly I can hardly stop playing it, and I've had it over 3 months now. I defy you not to be singing along at the top of your voice as one crescendo follows another. I have been an avid music fan for over 40 years and I have to say this is one of the best albums it has ever been my pleasure to hear. Buy it. Support the artist. You will not be disappointed.
on 2 October 2003
There's no room for Rufus Wainwright in todays pop scene. Writing tunes of epic proportion in a style that touches on showtunes, classical and pop has seen him release two incredible albums that have gone near unnoticed in this country. If you like Ed Harcourt, Jeff Buckley or Ben Folds, then Rufus should be a welcome addition to your collection. With a voice to die for, this album is more than a worthy successor to his previous gems, 'Poses' and 'Rufus Wainwright'.
The essential Rufus is still there, but with a lot more production and orchestration in this new incantation. We hear Rufus singing in newly expanded ranges and once again, pulling it off. It takes a true talently to seemlessly oscillate between full-orchestra elevation, a soulful voice backed by a solitary piano and an infectiously uplifting vocal chorus. Just listen to 'Go Or Go Ahead' for an example of this all encompasing musical journey. Thankfully we still have the tracks with nothing but a piano and a vocal line and this is where Rufus really shines. The man is such a talented musician, singer and songwriter that not since Jeff Buckley have I felt so moved by such seemingly effortless magnum opus. Just listen to 'Dinner At Eight' and 'Pretty Things' for an example of that minimalist beauty.
The highlight of the album is the grandiose 'Beautiful Child' with a simple percussion and acoustic guitar introduction building to an melodious masterpiece only to be brought out with an infectious repeated vocal all with a tribal underbelly. Justin, this is what 'Cry Me A River' should have been.
So there you have it, another great album from a great performer. There's no doubting the man's talent so now all that's left is for you to buy the album!
on 21 October 2004
....just settle down late in the evening, crack open a bottle of red wine, have a few glasses, turn out the lights and put this album on. If songs like 'I Don't Know What It Is', 'Go Or Go Ahead' or '14th Steet' don't make you feel...well, something, then, frankly, you have no soul. I've picked three but they are all wonderful.
Whatever music you think you like this is just genius. Don't close your mind. There's two sorts of music. Good and bad.
I would just die to write songs like this. Jeff Buckley would have been a massive fan. Elton John is. And whatever you think of Elton John he did write some great songs. This guy writes great songs too and you need them in your life.
Despite my constant exploration of different music, I hadn't come across Rufus Wainwright before. Then, one Sunday evening, I was watching the Ivor Novello tribute to one of my greatest musical heroes - Elton John - and in his acceptance speech he referred to the need for musicians to listen widely. He identified Rufus Wainwright as the best young songwriter in the world. Needless to say, I was intrigued and purchased the album on the strength of the masters' recommendation.
This is not an album which hits you immediately - rather it takes a few careful listens until you appreciate its qualities. When you become comfortable with its sound, however, it becomes magical. This is an artist with a unique sound, providing evidence of his own wider listening through the huge range of stylistic influences which run through his songs. The singing and playing throughout is superb and I would recommend it to anyone. Excellent.
on 6 June 2006
I'm so glad that I managed to discover this jem of an album. I'd not heard Rufus before but I heard Oh What a World on the radio and thought it was so different - think the Bolero with a pop twist - that I just had to check it out. The rest of the album is just as cool, the only way to describe it is a lush pop operetta, it has everything, violins, cellos, guitars, flutes piano - even a tuba! But surprisingly it all works very well, the vocal arrangements, orchestration and sheer scope of the music are really truly breathtaking, if you like music that's different from the mainstream I'd recommend you give the album ago.
on 15 October 2004
I had been advised of Rufus Wainwright when I was on vacation by my very musically aware cousin in Canada and I stored this information in my memory banks. Lo and behold when I returned to Scotland a friend loaned me a copy of 'Want One' by that very artist. I was, and still am, completely blown away by it, especially the first track 'What a World' which is very theatrical and based on Ravels Bolero. 'Vibrate' was also an immediate hit but the more you listen to the album the more important every track becomes. I cannot recommend this album highly enough and hope I can encourage more to buy this artist's work.
on 6 October 2003
In a way this review is uneccessary, because if you are looking at this page you have already discovered the delights of Rufus Wainwright and therefore have, almost certainly, bought this record. That is how it works with Rufus, it might be a cliche, but once you have heard him you love him. He is an artist to be cherished.
However, great artists have made bad records before ('all is dream', anyone? the new bonnie prince billy record??) and i was greatly trepedatious when purchasing 'Want One'. i had almost worn out my copy of poses, a record so full of life, and attention to detail, that i felt as though i had read a wonderful novel everytime it finished, and badly 'want'ed (yes, i know) something new to obsess about. The relief comes as soon as the first track is introduced with the kind of harmony not heard since 'surf's up' by the beach boys.
it is obvious from the beginning that Rufus has upped his game. the arrangements are more complex, and the vocals soar to an even greater extent than before. he sounds even more this time around like jeff buckley covering the greatest hits of frank sinatra. which, believe me, is a very great thing indeed. so, to conclude, no weak tracks, and something trully beautiful to get you through the winter, to enhance your appreciation of your suroundings like only the most amazing records can. if new york pulsates to the great sounds of george gershwin, my town pulsates to the sound of 'want one'.
on 19 July 2005
Thank God there are still artists who are daring enough to write great pop songs! I have only really known about Rufus for a week or so. After seeing him play live (on the DVD you get free with various copies of 'Want two') I went straight out and bought both the 'Want' albums. Both these albums are really fresh in my mind, so this review is perhaps a bit premature, but I just can't help myself.
I'm absolutely in love with this man's sound. I walked around with this album in my CD player and never once felt the urge to skip a track. I know it sounds hopelessly cheesy but the world seemed truly wonderful with this album in my headphones. The tunes range from deliriously fun slices of pop genius ('I Don't Know What It Is') to deeply emotional and affecting songs ('Dinner at Eight).
Many have made comparisons between Rufus and Thom Yorke and I agree that their voices are similar in places. But to compare Rufus to Radiohead is unfair, because this music is in a world of its own.
There isn't a song on this album I don't like, but if I were to name highlights I would say that 'I don't know what it is', Go or Go Ahead', '14th Street' and 'Dinner at Eight' are up there with the best songs written in the last 2 years. But seriously, EVERY song is great.
My advice to anyone reading this is to give both this and 'Want Two' (it's much darker but equally wonderful sequel) a go.
I'm very rarely compelled to try to sell someone anything, but Rufus Wainwright is an artist that is truly not to be missed.
on 28 November 2003
On ‘Want (one)’ Rufus Wainwright puts himself back together after flaming out on too many drugs and pretty bodies. Yet he can’t help poking at the bruises.
The artwork shows the swooning troubadour encased in armour. It’s never clear if this is a shell protecting him against others, a fortification against the outside world. Or a body modification enabling him to attack without fear of injury or penetration.
This is Wainwright’s third album and a magnificent one it is too. Synthesising the arch dramatics of ‘Poses’ with an extremely (musically) literate vocabulary, what we find ourselves immersed in is something close to ‘Breakdown: The Musical’. Everything from desexed jazz to 80s New Wave skiffle to wide screen psychedelia (with Hollywood strings, Herb Albert horns and massed gospel voices) to low key electric piano and voice are thrown into the pot.
Lyrically, Wainwright continues to explore the melancholic themes of restlessness, redemption, yearning, travel and its affects on the soul, the deconstituted spaces of modern life (malls, bars, airports) and that age old question of what you do after someone has broken your heart and you’ve decided to carry on living.
Yet there’s also a viciousness there and this becomes explicit on 'Dinner At Eight'(a song written after a furious row with his father) where Wainwright tells us he’s “gonna take you down with one little stone/I’m gonna break you down and see what you’re worth to me”.
It’s at these points that things get interesting: there’s a weary plasticity and a sardonic resignation that manifests itself in the raised eyebrow of “Men reading fashion magazines – straight men” or asking “Why am I always on a plane or fast train?”. You sense that Wainwright is moving between moments of authentic expression and a playful referencing of everything that’s gone before.
Which is not to say that there aren’t blasts of ecstatic joy and humour here. The words to ‘Vibrate’ “I tried to dance Britney Spears/I guess I’m getting on in years” cross reference electroclash with urbane New York lyricism befitting of Cole Porter.
This record sounds like pop time travel: a lush, gorgeous melodic rhapsody to coming down, surveying the damage you’ve done, and then living with it.
on 9 November 2005
This is a really, really good album. It's very beautiful, it can be heart-achingly good. One might have to get used to his voice. Easily done. Want One and Want Two are very, very good albums, and like a previous poster said - it's refreshing to hear brilliant pop song songwriting. And I don't mean teeny-bopper, cheesy pop. Just brilliant popular songs.