Album Reviews

Rufus Wainwright's Want Two is by far the composer's least commercial album. Filled with operatic vocals, symphonic arrangements, iconoclastic religiosity and Latin (the dead language, not Ricky Martin's bloodline), Want Two is unlikely to steal away any Jessica Simpson fans. Instead, Wainwright's fanciful songs about love and faith place him in the rarefied company of Bjork and Brian Wilson, whose audacious Medoella and SMiLE his album most resembles.

Recorded mostly during the same sessions that produced last year's Want One, Want Two features greater musical and lyrical challenges than its predecessor. After calling for a lamb of God to take away the world's sins on the soaring, theme-establishing opening cut "Agnus Dei," Wainwright reverts to his singer-songwriter side on "The One You Love." He answers fundamentalists with "Gay Messiah," which sweetly heralds the coming of a tube-sock-wearing savior "reborn from Seventies porn," and sings an ode to "The Art Teacher" from the perspective of a woman who marries well but never gets over her first crush. A bonus DVD disc of a concert filmed this year at San Francisco's famed Fillmore presents Wainwright's more direct side; but Want Two proves that droll commentary and ornate piano orchestrations don't exclude you from being a rock star.

BARRY WALTERS

(Posted: Dec 15, 2004)

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