Review by Darren Gawle
With Paul McCartney's 1966-67 output and the Beach Boys Pet Sounds providing a benchmark to which many of the post-grunge set seem to aspire these days, Rufus Wainwright seems to capture the idiom with an apparent -- and infuriating -- ease. Certainly, no matter how earnestly and how well Sloan nail down songs like "Junior Panthers" or "Sinking Ships," beside Wainwright their efforts sound like an over-zealous pastiche.
Excellent, lush, and evocative songs aside, the album is also chock-full of lyrical whimsy and startling chord progressions. "April Fools" puts a spring in your step and a sneer on your face with a sudden minor-key change in the refrain just to caution you against singing "And you will believe in love!" in the shower (like, it's not a love song, dammit!). "Beauty Mark" is sweet little sketch, possibly (?) dedicated to Rufus' mum, while a number of other tracks ("Matinee Idol", "Millbrook" and "In My Arms", for example) exude a deliciously decadent cabaret flavour reminiscent of Bertold Brecht -- left in lesser hands, they'd probably sound like pure camp.
So Rufus Wainwright has a couple of pretty famous parents -- so what? Rufus vindicates himself by producing an album that's excellent by anyone's standards. If you must judge the guy, at least he can stand and be judged on his own merits.
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