Rufus Wainwright - Out of the Game
Mark Ronson-produced album's expanded instrumentation feels misplaced
Releasing career retrospective House of Rufus last year and now drafting in ubiquitous producer Mark Ronson, all signs point to reinvention for Wainwright. Never one to shy away from the idiosyncratic in his operatic and multi-genre-infused pop, he embraces an expanded framework of instrumentation over which to drape his trademark sonorous tones: synths, bagpipes and more horns are added to his usual piano, strings and classical orchestration and buoyed by a female chorus.
While he gains points for risk-taking, the ‘danceable’, synth-laden, almost Gaga-esque ‘Bitter Tears’ and the overstimulation of ‘Candles’s accordion, bagpipe and drum corps assault seem like missteps when placed alongside his more familiar approaches. The country and soul-inflected anthemic first single ‘Out of the Game’, the swaggering debauchery of ‘Rashida’, and the melancholy country shuffle of ‘Respectable’ all play to his known and loved strengths: soaring, sensuous vocals, opulent lyrical world-building, vertiginous emotional range and a delicious sense of occasion.