on 26 April 2012
Yup he's back. And still singing all about him.
There's something so self obessedly wonderful about Rufus. All the songs revolve around him, or his family, or his friends. So really it's same old Rufus.
But damn the songs are very good. Echoes of everything here: His past albums, especially Release the Stars and Songs for Lulu (on Montauk) - but also touches of Queen, Beatles, a general 70's pop vibe, all topped off with swirling strings.
There's some great electric guitar here and there. A bit of country - most notable on the title track.
Great phrasing, catchy riffs and tunes. All these tracks would work wonderfully just with solo piano but it's the full band here which really makes things happen. All great throughout - there's almost everything here, including bagpipes! Really I'm not kidding.
Sister Martha (that's his sister not the religious kind) provides her gorgeous vocals on a couple of tracks, along with other family members.
This is very very good. Bravo Rufus - keep it up!
on 24 April 2012
Although Rufus Wainwright's prodigious musical and creative gifts have never been in doubt, his studio-recorded output since 2003/4's seminal "Want" albums has been rather disappointing. "Release The Stars" (2007) didn't have many good songs, a fact which the bombastic production did more to highlight than to conceal; while "All Days Are Nights.."(2010) was a brave and challenging work of stripped-back production and lieder-esque songwriting that inspired more admiration than love. In short, the luminescent charm and pop sensibility of Rufus's earlier work was missing from these collections, and it seemed that the legions who longed for "Want Three" would be indefinitely frustrated.
Those legions, I am sure, will now finally feel sated by "Out Of The Game", an album which truly marks a return to form for one of popular music's brightest talents. The songs here are better than excellent, Rufus's vocals have dramatically improved, and there is once more that almost conspiratorial sense of something special going on between performer and listener - a quality we have specifically come to associate with the Montreal Maestro's best work. Further, the production by Mark Ronson is sumptuously flawless, and coats every song with a beautiful metallic sheen that renders each one an exquisite harmonic delight.
Basically, all the cuts included are excellent.
The album kicks off with the title track, a slinky slice of pedestrian country-pop that includes a sneaky lyrical nod to ABBA: "...does your Mama know?...".
The second track, the raucous "Jericho", sounds a bit like an up-tempo (albeit much better) version of "Slideshow" from "Release The Stars"; while "Rashida" is a poppy, lush Supertramp homage, with a coda that conjures Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig In The Sky".
"Barbara", a stunning soulful groove that flowers into a lovely chorus of symphonic vocals, precedes "Welcome To The Ball", a trademark tranche of Rufus cabaret-pop that (musically, at least) takes us back to the stylings of our hero's eponymous debut, and is presumably directed at the singer's baby daughter.
Next, "Montauk", one of the album's pivotal selections, is a musical and lyrical spiral that deftly ushers us through the generational cycles of life and death.
The second half of the album commences with "Bitter Tears", a track that evinces the cold, hard surface of 80's synth-pop, but resolves into a beautifully counterpointed arpeggio; "Respectable Dive" lazily recalls the bucolic quality of "Want", and "Perfect Man" marries a clipped, hip beat with a contemporary, softly operatic melody.
"Sometimes You Need" is a lovely folk tune with a lurid twist of ethereal sophistication; while the penultimate "Song Of You" is an apparent sequel that answers the questions raised by the artist's earlier song "Not Ready To Love", and musically surpasses the latter with a melody that endeavours to reach untouchable heights in a manner that is almost Wagnerian.
Finally, the closer "Candles" is a folksy gospel ballad that executes a remarkable mood shift, and escorts us towards a celestially soporific conclusion to the album.
Overall, "Out Of The Game" is a brilliant long player that is simultaneously familiar, surprising, enchanting and inspiring. It will no doubt prove to be one of the albums of 2012. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how it could possibly be surpassed anytime soon.
on 23 April 2012
Rufus Wainwright delivers his most consistent and restrained lp since Poses but with stylistic echoes of all his work sprinkled throughout. Mark Ronson produces with a great ear for 70's soft-rock, 80's electro-pop and Wainwright's more complex usual sound. Seriously good pop music from an artist who deserves the wider audience this will hopefully bring.
on 16 June 2012
My first reaction to this new line of Rufus' was: hmm, liked the old Rufus better. Then I caught myself playing the CD over and over again. I had to think of an interview with Ringo Starr in the seventies I once read, in which he was asked what he thought of his estranged pal Paul's new effort 'Venus and Mars'. His first response was 'not great' and then a moment later walking down the street or so he found himself whistling a tune of it over and over again. 'Out of the Game' is a great record. There is undiluted old Rufus here too, 'Montauk', 'Song for you', 'Candles' for example. But he has clearly set out to broaden his appeal, inviting Mark Ronson as producer and going for dance music, music that befits Top 40 Radio. The first three songs 'Out of the Game', 'Jericho' and 'Rashida' is an irresistible, triumphant trio of songs. Philly Soul comes to mind in 'Bitter Tears', 'Welcome to the Ball.' This is Rufus too. He has merely harnassed his talent, directed it differently. I imagine he has seen a club or two in his wilder days, so making dance music is not alien to his core. His talent as a composer and musician is so vast, he can adopt many guises and still be Rufus. And if I suddenly hanker for wall to wall undiluted old Rufus, the composer of pop 'lieder', 'Lulu' has not ceased to exist.
on 25 April 2012
Have always looked forward to a new Rufus album and the last couple have tested me slightly.
However, this has to be up there with Want One. A truly brilliant album which sees Rufus back to his peak of
The truly haunting Candles and Montauk are real highlights and the excellent lead single Out of the Game deserves
to be a radio staple for the forthcoming months. No doubt it wont be, but this could be the huge commercial breakthrough Rufus so truly deserves.
on 25 April 2012
Rufus Wainwright's latest release is as pop-lush as he claims ["the most pop album I have made"], and whilst we know the production touch belongs to Mark Ronson, he would appear to have drawn on precursor strokes of lavishness from the likes of Todd Rudgren, Godley and Creme, and on fifth track 'Welcome To The Ball', George Martin with its Beatlesesque use of trumpets and other sundries. It is all very pretty with Wainwright's polished tenor and the whirling choruses that sing hand in hand as they dance down this luxuriant pop boulevard.
It is this production that dominates over songwriting, nothing quite matching the quality of songs from early work on 'Poses', 'Want One' and 'Want Two', but the confession and angst that ignited that creative spark has been lessened by that catalyst's familiarity and, presumably for Wainwright himself as much as family and the public, its acceptance. One of the strongest tracks for me on this album is in many ways the least pretty, 'Montauk', a song written for Wainwright's daughter, and its internal key changes provide upsets to the classic descending melodic line. The lyrics drive this one, and Wainwright's imagining of a future meeting and assessment of the father figure seems to reflect the preoccupations he has had with his own, and perhaps confronting the possible conflicts he now feels as the one dad who plays a piano and the other who wears kimonos. It is a song that has an honest anticipation about its hopes and fears,
'One day you will come to Montauk
And see your dad trying to be evil
One day you will come to Montauk
And see your other dad feeling lonely
Hope that you'll protect him'
and it ends poignantly by appearing to invoke the memory of his mother Kate McGarrigle
'One day years ago in Montauk
Lived a woman, now a shadow
But she does wait for us in the ocean'
on 29 April 2012
This is the first Rufus album i've ever heard. He sounds like a male version of k.d.lang! Love the attention to detail - his voice is so smooth and effortless. Really recommend this album. Rashida is a stand out track.
on 25 April 2012
There is little doubt that Rufus Wainwright is one of the most talented, versatile and inventive songwriters of our age. However, his reputation for hyper-theatrical, some would say overblown, styling has had some detractors. On this record, however, with the hand of Mark Ronson at the helm, all of Rufus' wonderful song-writing skills have been channelled and honed into perhaps the most satisfying disc he has made.
Lyrically, Rufus is certainly not 'out of the game' - he is bang on the money. Songs about his husband, his baby, his dead mother, the compromises and challenges of being in love, and in the album's seminal moment - Montauk - all of these themes come together in a wonderfully written song which shimmers with Ronson production touches.
Musically, the album is sublime - the musicianship of all involved simply shines through. It's hard to believe that this was produced in little more than a week of recording.
Compositionally, the sound is unmistakably Rufus - and reaches his high standards for musical interest - the falling chord sequences, the quirky note combinations, the flowing keyboard work and the syncopated time signature shifts. But across it all, Ronson has poured a kind of effortless 'cool'.
People will always hark back to the 'Want' albums as being seminal Rufus - and perhaps they are Rufus at his purest, most individual, self. But this album shows what Rufus can achieve alongside a great contemporary producer, and it is my view that this approach has taken Rufus' songwriting to a place where it could seriously break through into the mainstream consciousness, without compromising its integrity. Great work from all involved.
on 26 May 2012
I had never heard a Rufus Wainwright album, till this latest release. I've enjoyed this so much, i had to check out his back catalogue.
Purchased " Want One " ( one of the best albums i've ever heard ) " Out Of The Game " is very much in the same style.
This guy doesn't get the recognition he deserves, in terms of commercial success. Without doubt, one of the greatest artists of the 21st century.
Ordered the rest of his albums...can't wait for them to arrive !
on 23 May 2012
Back on form with this album, first few listens as always you think its not up to his previous, but now both my wife and I are singing the songs round the house, and looking forward to his Bath concert. Favourite tracks Rashida and respectable dive. Shame I cant persuade my freinds to give Rufus a try,they are missing out.