Rufus Wainwright

Want Two

I was initially a little immune to the baroque fabulousness of Want One, the precursor to Want Two, Wainwright's fifth album -- that is, until One's gut-ripper "Go or Go Ahead" followed me around like a larger-than-life washed-up cinema star desperate for work. I gave her a starring role on my iPod for about two months. But Want Two hasn't really provided that "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. De Mille" moment -- so far. The old girl might have some potential yet, though. "Agnus Dei" is obscenely self-indulgent, with Wainwright stretching his vocal cords around opulent Latin melismas, while a plaintive fiddle and glistening, barely moving strings follow him from Eastern to Western tonalities. Like Debussy with a schoolgirl/boy's crush, Wainwright gives commonplace tricks of the heart his trademark slurred grandiosity on "The Art Teacher." And with its hodgepodge of old-country melodies and nightclub slink, "Old Whore's Diet" offers not only one of the best song titles ever, but also the album's best track. Well, pour me a champagne cocktail and call me Norma Desmond, I do believe I'm sold after all.

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