A wild-card songwriter with a familial pedigree and an ever-expanding cult retinue, the raffish but assiduous Rufus Wainwright--outré, gay, and sage--is not one to shy away from invigorating his songs with a lurid theatric... more »al honesty. Want Two perhaps reflects Wainwright's revised priorities since stepping back from the recreational medication precipice. Opening number "Agnus Die"--a medieval Catholic liturgy given an eastern flavor and performed with Hungarian instruments--seeks spiritual laundering and clemency, but this virtue is offset by the implied vice and self-loathing of grand finale "Old Whore's Diet," a brilliantly irrational sprawl of skewed genius taking in Latin-American grooves and a doomy operatic Radiohead-esque requiem. Between these polar extremes lies Wainwright's eye for improbable observational finesse. Few others could express the first lovestruck flush of teenage infatuation with such deliberate inarticulacy ("Art Teacher") or envisage the coming of a "Gay Messiah" dripping in testicular fluid. He's evidently an attention-craving naughty boy with a love of Serge Gainsbourg, Elvis Costello and harpsichords, but on Want Two Rufus Wainwright makes sex, drugs, politics--and yes, belated redemption--sound positively velvety. --Kevin Maidment« less
A wild-card songwriter with a familial pedigree and an ever-expanding cult retinue, the raffish but assiduous Rufus Wainwright--outré, gay, and sage--is not one to shy away from invigorating his songs with a lurid theatrical honesty. Want Two perhaps reflects Wainwright's revised priorities since stepping back from the recreational medication precipice. Opening number "Agnus Die"--a medieval Catholic liturgy given an eastern flavor and performed with Hungarian instruments--seeks spiritual laundering and clemency, but this virtue is offset by the implied vice and self-loathing of grand finale "Old Whore's Diet," a brilliantly irrational sprawl of skewed genius taking in Latin-American grooves and a doomy operatic Radiohead-esque requiem. Between these polar extremes lies Wainwright's eye for improbable observational finesse. Few others could express the first lovestruck flush of teenage infatuation with such deliberate inarticulacy ("Art Teacher") or envisage the coming of a "Gay Messiah" dripping in testicular fluid. He's evidently an attention-craving naughty boy with a love of Serge Gainsbourg, Elvis Costello and harpsichords, but on Want Two Rufus Wainwright makes sex, drugs, politics--and yes, belated redemption--sound positively velvety. --Kevin Maidment
"I'd like to begin this review by saying that Rufus's latest album, WANT TWO, could easily be the best LP of 2004!
Taken from the "Want" recording sessions that gave us last year's WANT ONE, this meditative follow-up to an artist's perspective on the undying passions, desires, and romantic longings that each and every one of us harbours, is almost a mirror-image of the first WANT album and of the artist himself, as he taps into the more effeminite aspects of his inner-psyche to explore the same themes found on WANT ONE, but this time from the perspective of a woman-- from the album's cover artwork to selected song titles ("Little Sister" & "Old Whore's Diet") to the inviting lyrics. Both of the WANT albums were originally intended to be releases together in a double-disc package, but I agree with a previous reviewer that they are much more effective as independent albums. While they tackle similar universal themes, their persepctives and overall vibes are so different that they both deserve their own spotlight. I also find it ironic that WANT TWO is partially comprised of tracks that didn't "fit" into the WANT ONE story, but I find the latter to be more cohesive and focused. In fact, I'd go out on a limb to say that WANT TWO is his strongest, most cohesive album in his ever-growing repertoire of music. When I indulge in a Rufus album for the first time, there are always tracks that I initially feel indifferent about that eventually grow on me, but the first time I listened to WANT TWO I was amazed at how each and every song appealed to a wide range of my emotions and how the entire album had my undivided attention from start to finish.
Some of Rufus's best songs are contained within this devine work: "The One you Love," while very commercial and radio-friendly, has frank lyrics ("Let's f*ck this awful art party, want you to make love to me and only to me in the dark.") and an incredible melody that is sure to have people singing along in their heads for years to come; "Little Sister" sounds more Beethoven than Beatles, the lyrics are incredibly witty and manage to mesh quite well with the classical music backdrop; "This Love Affair" spotlights the album's darker side and this track, while agonizingly painful, is beautiful in its misery as the antagonist moves on with his/her life after an affair; the somber mood continues with the Jeff Buckley ode "Memphis Skyline," being a Buckley fan myself I really appreciated this one and was in tears the first time I listened to it the way Rufus alludes to Ophelia and Eurydice, the last minute or so is hauntingly beautiful; "Waiting for a Dream" is the real gem for me-- it's got a great melody, and the lyrics are personal to the artist and at the same time very representative of the state of things today in America, this is one of those bright spots in such a dark time that gives us hope that things will get better (hopefully in 2008!!!); "Crumb by Crumb" certainly taps into the fairytale sort of theme running throughout the WANT albums with allusions to Hansel & Gretel's trail of bread crumbs, the song also brings the two characters from the WANT albums, the knight and the lady-in-waiting, together on their trip through the "big, black forrest" and their trip through life...
WANT TWO is not a casual album, it's a natural progression in an extremely talented artist's life that serves as a ravishing reminder of Rufus's musical greatness, and on a more subliminal level, the album serves to remind us that there's always light in the dark and happiness in the pain... "
Love in the Dark
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 11/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an impressive package from Rufus Wainwright. Rufus amazes us because he is so good at so many of the skills that are required from a musical artist. He's an excellent and expressive singer. He's an extraordinary & prolific writer, creating original and unique pieces consistently, excelling at both unique lyrics and melodies. He's a master arranger, employing numerous musical touches that expand the emotional impact of his already-excellent compositions. He's a gracious and giving bandleader. With the CD/DVD combination, he's apparently also an excellent musical businessman.
"Want Two" strikes me as much more of a personal project for Rufus. These songs seem close to his emotional life, somewhat less accessible. When he sings on the DVD live from Fillmore East in San Francisco, Rufus wraps himself inside his piano and seems to float away, exploring the inner contexts of the melodies. Ironically, as he seems so wrapped up within the songs, he communicates so personally and delicately that we become entranced, much as Laura Nyro would do in her live performances. Joan Wasser from Dambuilders joins the band on DVD and does an excellent performance on vocals and violin.
Of these tunes, "Old Whore's Diet" is the most accessible for me, an 8-minute extended track with an insistent beat that builds and makes the song fly by in the wink of an eye. "The One You Love" has a great driving beat, Rufus' impassioned vocals, "I'm singing, 'Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, See what he's picked up in the park,' Let's f**k this awful art party, want you to make love to me & only me in the dark." "Little Sister" sounds like an orchestral chamber piece that crosscuts with the wild modernism of the lyric, "You may have to use your hips as fodder, still putting your best foot forward." "The Art Teacher" reads well on both the disc and DVD, full of twists with Rufus singing the song from a woman's perspective. "This Love Affair" is a dreamy track that builds with an amazing string arrangement. Wainwright continues to amaze on this set. His live performance likewise brings you into the auditorium. Enjoy!"
Sarah E. Zucker | Evanston, IL | 11/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you liked Want One, you will like Want Two. But it will leave you with sort of a buzzing in your brain, disoriented and awed. This album is a paradox; classic Rufus, yet unlike anything you have heard from him before.
Rufus himself said that this album was comprised of misfits in a way. All the songs that didn't quite fit in with Want One got stuck here. And yet, they are oddly cohesive. Like most of his albums, I liked half of the songs, and was sort of indifferent to the others. But the ones I liked, I REALLY liked. I think this is just the nature of the beast. Rufus' style is such a broad range, that most of his fans probably feel this way.
As per usual, this album can be divided into the catchy poppier songs and the more heartwrenching less melodic songs. Personally, I like his more upbeat songs, but from what I hear of the opposite fan camp, the heartwrenching songs on here are excellent as well. Some standouts include:
1)The One You Love-Upbeat, catchy. comparable to Cigarettes and Chocolate milk. The poppiest song on the album
2)Little Sister-This is great, and as a previous reviewer said is very Motzart-esque. We see a lot more of Rufus' cheekiness on this album than ever before, and this song is a good example.
5)The Art Teacher-Melancholy perfection.
6)Hometown Waltz-A novelty Montreal inspired little ditty.
7)Gay Messiah-Again, Rufus and his cheekiness. Not very upbeat, yet somehow wryly humorous
8)Crumb by Crumb-A perfect blend of Rufus' heartfelt lyrics and a great melody. plodding piano that is great fun
9)Old Whore's Diet- The excellent finale to an eclectic album. Has a great beat, and is truly very different.
I recommend Want Two to every Rufus Wainwright fan. However, if you are just starting to explore his music, you may not want to get this album first. Try Poses or Want One. And then indulge yourself with this exotic treat."
Want No More
Trenton Jones | Atlanta, GA | 11/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a fan of Rufus since his '98 debut. He just continues to top himself with each release (no pun intended there!). It takes merely one word to describe the follow up to 2003's Want One: breathtaking. 'The One You Love' is probably one of Wainwright's few radio friendly songs, appealing to those who probably generally would respond with 'Rufus who?' at the mention of his name. 'Little Sister' is lyrically probably one of the best tracks on the album, and the sound is so operatically campy & fun. But the album's true shine can be heard in the trio of songs 8, 9, & 10. You'd expect with a title like 'Gay Messiah' that'd it be something borderline offensive to most, but the result is quite the opposite; beautiful & melancholy. 'Memphis Skyline,' an ode to Jeff Buckley, is quite possibly the most beautiful song on this record. The last 60 seconds is simply gorgeous. The next track, 'Waiting For A Dream,' is probably one of the best songs he's ever recorded. This is such a welcome companion piece to Want 1 ... Equally as beautiful, but in a very different way. The arrangements on this album are so intricate; extremely well engineered, and of course, brilliantly written."
A. Paulette | Amelia, VA USA | 08/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rufus Wainwright is THE most talented songwriter and musician working today. Want Two is much darker than Want One, but the albums compliment each other well. The album starts with "Agnus Dei", a haunting, beautiful Latin chant. Then it goes into the more upbeat "The One You Love". Then comes "Peach Trees", which is one of the most beautiful songs Rufus has written to date. "Little Sister" is a bit lighter than the first few songs, as is "The Art Teacher' and the superb "Hometown Waltz". Then the mood goes back to the dark, brooding sound of "This Love Affair". Then comes the crowning achievement of this album, "Gay Messiah". Yes the title is a bit shocking, but it is an absolutely brilliant piece of songwriting. After that is Rufus's ode to the late Jeff Buckley, "Memphis Skyline". Then comes the magnificent "Waiting for a Dream". After that the album takes another lighter turn with "Crumb by Crumb" and heads off into the sunset with "Old Whore's Diet". All in all, this album is magnificent, one of Rufus's best, and anyone who has an appreciation for good music would do well to give this album a listen."