Pin It

CD Review 

by Miranda Hale

Rufus Wainwright is a Romantic poet trapped in a time of crude irony and rough, underdeveloped aesthetics. Yet he is also a postmodern artist, a witty, extremely self-aware and angsty 21st-century composer and lyricist, writing songs to a musical no one has yet thought of producing.

Want One (Dreamworks), his third release, is both exhilarating and sad, nostalgic and very much ahead of its time. The lyrics reveal a man who wants to lose his heart to love, to be out of control for once, to let himself feel it all in an often cynical and painful world. Here, Wainwright sings about the wanderlust he inherited from his musician parents, searching for love but craving change even more ("Oh What a World"), about the barriers to romance and love in contemporary society ("Vicious World") and about feeling like a modern-day Narcissus who secretly really only wants something or someone to love -- yet is looking in all the wrong places ("Movies of Myself"). Wainwright further deals with the never-ending search for self -- in his own case, looking for something beyond self and beyond fame while at the same time deriving complicated joy and true inspiration from these facets of his life. In this way, he embodies the contradictions of many in the new century, the jaded children of the '80s who dismiss phoniness and preciousness while still craving something more than their cultural inheritance.

The songs are full of elegant piano, lush string sections, keyboards and lots of harp. They also feature beautiful background vocals and occasional Motown-esque arrangements. They exhibit a mood spectrum ranging from melancholy to euphoria.

Want One is that rare piece of contemporary art: self-aware in its postmodernism but simultaneously yearning for something bigger, something more meaningful, both inside of and outside of the artist himself. When Wainwright expresses thanks (on "Go or Go Ahead") for "this bitter knowledge / Guardian angels who left me stranded," we know it's from a man who has felt crushing defeat, loneliness and meaninglessness. He has been inspired, nevertheless, to seek something more and to create a thing of amazing beauty. It's from a man who, ultimately, wouldn't have it any other way.

Publication date: 12/04/03
Pin It

Readers also liked…

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
The Inuit Art of Povungnituk

The Inuit Art of Povungnituk @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 12

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Miranda Hale

  • Kissing Like You Mean It

    The Kissers are a five-piece group from Madison, Wis., who combine traditional Celtic sounds, punk spirit and an old-fashioned country vibe with rock and roll rhythms. They are famous in the Midwest for thei
    • Jun 9, 2005
  • Meet the Wiggles

    They're four talented men with distinct, silly personalities, cute wardrobes, screaming fans and world-wide success. The Beatles? Nah, it's the Wiggles, the Fab Four for the preschool set. If you don't have a tot of your own, or watch the
    • Apr 21, 2005
  • Necessary Tension

    Kevin Sampsell -- author, zine/small press guy at Powell's Books in Portland and creator of Future Tense Publishing --has Spokane roots. Sampsell lived in Spokane for a period in the late '80s and early '90s while attending broadcasting scho
    • Feb 17, 2005
  • More »

© 2019 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation