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 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 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 23 December 2003
This is not funny anymore. I am listening to 'Want One' on a continual loop. My other CDs are caked with dust. I am not a well man. THIS IS NOT A HEALTHY EXISTENCE. On the rare occasion I stop listening to this album, it is only because I'm listening to Track 4, 'Movies Of Myself', on individual repeat. The lyrics have burned themselves into my brain and sneak irrelevently into my daily conversation. I don't understand how this happened. Wainwright's previous album contained a few gorgeous tracks, but nothing to suggest such relentless, hypnotic beauty. One minute I was happily filling my albums-of-the-year list with crunching guitar sounds and electronic weirdness, and then suddenly WHAM, I contracted a dose of 'Want One', and that was it. Soaring melodies and luscious strings have turned me into some kind of of Big Girl's Blouse. I'm 28 and I LIKED FOOTBALL, for goodness' sake. If you respect the rest of your CDs, I beseech you, do not buy this album. Do not bother downloading it for free as I initially did, because it carries a gypsy curse and you will feel compelled to go out and buy a proper copy anyway.
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 3 March 2004
I know it isn't exactly healthy to go wan*ing over your own record collectiom (figuratively speaking!), but sometimes you own a record that is so good that your actually a proud to have it. Sometimes, it's like your holding a future classic in your hands and you were one of the first to hear it.
That's a very special kind of record.
Rufus Wainwright writes songs of the highest order, the kind that can make you laugh and cry, and although I can't draw any comparisons to other artists (because I am 16 and actually don't own that much music), I don't feel that I want to. The closest thing that I can draw a compare this to is a Broadway musical, it has everything; flutes, violins, cellos, pianos, guitars, even a tuba on the grandiose opening 'Oh What a World', where Wainwright sounds both tired and appreciative of his hectic life.
Rufus goes on to flirt with piano balladry 'Pretty Things', elegant opera 'Vibrate' and pure hearted folk 'Beautiful Child', and with such a broad pallete, this album could serve as your starting post for new forays into musical history. But the influence goes further than just music, it's in the accompanying artwork too, where an armour suited Rufus sits in a dreamy woodland landscape, with just a sword and rose for company. Maybe it's just me, but the childhood vulnerability takes me back to watching old Disney films when the stories were romantic, not contempary.
And best of all, Rufus feels no shame at weaving an album of grand showmanship and tender heartbreak. 'So what if I like pretty things?' ask Wainwright on 'Pretty Things'. I don't know about everyone else, but I have no problem at all.
on 15 December 2003
Wainwright’s previous albums have flitted between almost every genre of music from pop to cabaret to folk to opera. This, coupled with his unique voice, means that you will either love or hate his work. This reviewer, while impressed with his two previous albums has unashamedly fallen in love with his latest effort. ‘Want One’ is a staggeringly ambitious album with an emotional complexity rarely seen in music; a timeless masterpiece which deserves a place in the history books alongside ‘Revolver’, ‘Automatic For The People’ and the like, as one of the greatest albums ever made.
The album’s opening track, ‘Oh What A World’ is a reinterpretation of Ravel’s Bolero. Wainwright’s sense of humour is highlighted in amongst the soaring strings and pounding drums as he quips, “Men reading fashion magazines / Oh what a world it seems we live in / Straight men.” The humour, decadence and flamboyance combine to make this perhaps the definitive Wainwright track.
‘I Don’t Know What It Is’ is the most unashamed pop song on the album. The theme of the track is being lost and not knowing it, something that probably emerges from the demons that Wainwright has had to battle since 2001’s ‘Poses’. The melody is simple yet powerful and the arrangement is left relatively uncluttered, save for some refined strings and horns which emerge in the second chorus. It is frankly, stunning. Where ‘I Don’t Know What It Is’ is the most poppy song on the album so ‘Movies Of Myself’ is the most immediately appealing. It marks the album’s energetic peak. The track is propelled by a driving drumbeat, an acoustic guitar and the standard Wainwright four-part harmony. Here Wainwright admonishes a lover for fleeing from commitment (“Start giving me something, a love that is longer than a day / Start making my heart sing something that it doesn’t want to say”). Elsewhere ‘Beautiful Child’ is an infectious Afro-Latin rave about redemption and the glories of growing old. For those concerned that Wainwright’s passion for theatre has waned, fear not; both album closer ‘Dinner At Eight’ (an open letter to his father Loudon Wainwright III) and the riotous honky tonk session that is ‘14th Street’ would befit the most memorable musicals.
‘Vibrate’ provides a brief moment of levity as Wainwright jokes about his mobile phone never ringing, electroclash karaoke and Britney Spears. It’s inclusion on the album is a little at odds with much of the material here and on the one hand it may considered to be the one track which prevents ‘Want One’ being truly timeless; on the other (and in this reviewer’s opinion), it is a lavish description of the embellishments of modern living. Meanwhile,‘11:11’ has Wainwright offer a fitting tribute to the 9/11 disaster.
While the album is of incredibly high quality throughout, its zenith is reached on track six with the utterly majestic ‘Go Or Go Ahead’. Frankly it is a moment of sheer song writing genius and one of the greatest pop songs written in the last decade. It is a hushed acoustic number that doesn’t play its hand until the two and a half minute mark, when it erupts into a grand epic of charged guitars and a near literal Greek chorus. Wainwright’s towering vocal charges the track with yet more power as he spouts tales of mythology (“But Medusa kiss me and crucify / This unholy notion of the mythic power of love.”).
Rarely does an album as magical as this appear on the shelves of music stores. Wainwright’s previous albums (as well as his superior lineage) suggested that he had the capability of making one such album and with ‘Want One’ he does just that. ‘Want One’ is an absolute masterpiece. Its sister album ‘Want Two’ is due next year and if it is anything like its elder sibling it will be entirely spellbinding.