May 3, 2012
Rufus Wainwright, a Canadian-American singer-songwriter best known for his single "Hallelujah," is back with a new album.
Out of the Game is his seventh album, and perhaps his most "pop-like" work, along with hints of old rock artists like Queen and Elton John. Wainwright himself describes his newest album as his most "dancible" yet, probably because of the steady rhythms and pulsing beats in most of the songs.
He starts off with "Out of the Game," a catchy song with an upbeat rhythm and tune throughout, in which he complains about how he's "been out [of the game] for a long time now" and how he is "lookin' for something/Can't be found on the main drain, no."
After these somewhat bitter lyrics, Wainwright follows it up with "Jericho," another song with heavy pop influences and unhappy lyrics, in which he laments about how he is "a fool to think something so impossible/You ain't ever gonna change."
Next is "Rashida," underscored with constantly changing piano chords and a tenor saxophone as well as a heavy bass.
It is missing the drums that were so prominent in the first two pieces, but Wainwright makes up for it with his voice swirling through the piece and mixing smoothly with the gliding sax.
Not all of his songs are catchy and upbeat, though. Pieces like the first few songs are strongly contrasted with tracks like "Montauk," in which the piece is highlighted by a continuously flowing set of arpeggios.
What sounds like soft hand drums and the occasional quiet cymbal crash is so subtle that it can barely be heard without really focusing hard.
All of this emphasizes the odd lyrics and asymmetrical lines, with different lines of the song being drastically different lengths from each other.
This seems to be a personal song to his daughter, saying how "one day you will come to Montauk and see your dad play the piano and see your other dad wearing glasses" and hoping that she will "want to stay for a while."
Such intimate lyrics are an extremely important part of any artist who wants to leave the listener with a sense of who he or she is as a person, what views they espouse and what experiences have changed them as a songwriter as well as a person.
There's also the dreamy ballad-esque "Barbara," a song about Barbara Charone, who is a leading PR in the United Kingdom. The background to this piece makes the listener feel like he or she has fallen into some sort of acid trip, kind of like the experience one has when watching the video of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine."
Later in the album, there's the single "Perfect Man," where once again with the catchy rhythms and long lines of lyrics, Wainwright keeps going on and on seemingly without taking a breath.
There's just something about how he dryly sings, "thinking over it over it how can I get over it," that's inherently satisfying. He sings it so calmly, but the repeating words lead to a sense of tension.
Perhaps part of the satisfaction comes from the chromatic ascending and descending scales he uses in the later part of the piece, which also helps to ratchet the tension up until he goes back to the chorus.
The last piece in the album is "Candles," another soft piece with a quiet guitar accompaniment and a focus on the lyrics.
This is another personal piece with a peaceful sense of sadness and yet acceptance.
In the song, Wainwright says, "It's always just that little bit more/That doesn't get you what you're looking for/But gets you where you need to go/But the churches have run out of candles."
One can only imagine what he is drawing from his own life in order to compose this, but many people can probably relate to an incident in their own life where this song would be relevant.
The last instrumental part of the piece uses Scottish bagpipes and fades out slowly into silence. "Candles" is a good choice of a song to end the album on, because it's a calm contrast to the energy that is found at the beginning of Out of the Game.
Overall, this album has a bit of everything - some pop for those who like more energetic songs, some quirky lyrics for those who pay attention to what the artist is saying and some peaceful music for those who prefer easy listening.
Although not everyone might like every piece on the album, everyone should find at least one favorite.