Rufus Wainwright's most disappointing album since Want One, follows his best album since Posies. It's a pop move without a pop hit, a mish-mash of Elton-y moves on top of Rufus' Morrissey meets Jeff Buckley vocals, which aims for ease but never comes close. Around an ode to his yet to be teenage daughter and a memento-mori for his mother, are a handful of lovely pop songs. And if there was one song as, forget Posies, "Vibrate" or "Dinner At Eight", Rufus would've gotten away with it.
After an opera and his album, All The Days Are Night: Songs For Lulu, nearly anything would sound slight. but honestly, "Sad With What I Have" would fit seamlessly on Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, where would "Jericho" fit? Perhaps, if it would fit on Don't Shoot Me I'm The Piano Player, we could go along for the ride. But it isn't that good. It's not bad. The Dap-Kings add in horns for a clever aural pun, but it is really nothing much. A trifle.
As for Mark Ronson… Mark Ronson is a strawman, who has ridden Amy Winehouses genius for years but hasn't been able to follow it up since then. His sophomore album was an abysmal train wreck and his work on Duran Duran did nothing for him or them. He is all mouth and trouser, he is all rolodex and retro. Ronson gives Rufus about as much help as Ronson gave Duran Duran the Black Lips. Sure, it is not Ronson's job to save bad material, but how about enhancing good material.
There is something wildly inappropriate about the way. It is all over the place. Why is Rufus ending a pop move with funeral bagpipes for his mother. And anyway, after Lulu, does he think he has anything more moving to add to the subject. Sure, I saw him at Carnegie Hall playing Lulu, he doesn't need a seven minute dirge "Candles"to bring the album all the way down to zero at the end.
Incidentally, if Rufus is worried about his daughter being ashamed of him when she grows up, as he appears to be on "Montague", writing a better song would go a long long long way in solving the problem.
I am not offering a blanket condemnation, the title track, "Jericho", "Welcome To the Ball" are all very good songs. But they can't keep the album, a conceptual mish mash and a silly move into the mainstream, afloat. It is his worst album to date… though still pretty damn good.
next time, Rufus, dump Ronson for fucks sake.