Rufus Wainwright has, quite appropriately, established himself as one of contemporary pop music’s most interesting songwriters. With the release of his fourth album, Want Two, a follow-up to last year’s Want One sessions, there is, however, very little that is modern about the singer-songwriter save for his flag-waving homosexuality. With a flair for the theatrical, Wainwright has set himself apart from other pop musicians by flirting with classical and cabaret with a maestro touch that seemed beyond his years despite his musical pedigree. But, as his career evolves, Wainwright favors intense operatic melodrama and lush instrumentation, an over-indulgence that almost gets the best of him here. Sounding more like Josh Groban than Elton John, Wainwright has ditched his best subject — himself. The orchestral maneuvers drag on as he laments about Jeff Buckley and his sisters, pulling too much from his feminine side. Wainwright’s best asset has always been his self-indulgent crooning about addictions to love and nasty vices, and because he loses himself amid the baroque, Want Two comes off emotionally void. The showy “Crumb by Crumb” and “The One You Love” hint at 2001’s Poses, but, overall, the tracks sound like a bunch of outtakes that leave you not wanting more, but expecting more.
Shannon McCarthy writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].