Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game

Father's Most Pop

Rufus Wainwright’s latest release is as pop-lush as he claims [“the most pop album I have made”], and whilst we know the production touch belongs to Mark Ronson, he would appear to have drawn on precursor strokes of lavishness from the likes of Todd Rudgren, Godley and Creme, and on fifth track Welcome To The Ball, George Martin with its Beatlesesque use of trumpets and other sundries. It is all very pretty with Wainwright’s polished tenor and the whirling choruses that sing hand in hand as they dance down this luxuriant pop boulevard.

It is this production that dominates over songwriting, nothing quite matching the quality of songs from early work on Poses, Want One and Want Two, but the confession and angst that ignited that creative spark has been lessened by that catalyst's familiarity and, presumably for Wainwright himself as much as family and the public, its acceptance. One of the strongest tracks for me on this album is in many ways the least ‘pretty’, Montauk, a song written for Wainwright’s daughter, and its internal key changes provide upsets to the classic descending melodic line. The lyrics drive this one, and Wainwright’s imagining of a future meeting and assessment of the father figure seems to reflect the preoccupations he has had with his own, and perhaps confronting the possible conflicts he now feels as the one dad who plays a piano and the other who wears kimonos. It is a song that has an honest anticipation about its hopes and fears,

One day you will come to Montauk
And see your dad trying to be evil
One day you will come to Montauk
And see your other dad feeling lonely
Hope that you’ll protect him

and it ends poignantly by appearing to invoke the memory of his mother Kate McGarrigle

One day years ago in Montauk
Lived a woman, now a shadow
But she does wait for us in the ocean

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