PosesWhere irony rules, and romanticism is left to the Celine Dions of the world, Montreal balladeer Rufus Wainright’s newest album is like a blanket to wrap yourself up in and unabashedly daydream.
“Everything it seems I like’s a little bit sweeter, a little bit fatter, a little bit harmful for me,” he sings on the opening “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk,” thus setting up a battle cry for the almost-but-not-quite-broken-hearted. “So please be kind if I’m a mess.” No wonder straight girls and queens the world over swoon for someone who understands our pain so well and manages to make it sound so damn much cooler than it is in our cases.
The arrangements are stripped down compared to his self-titled 1998 debut, but with Wainright that simply means a smaller string section. Using instrumentation that would sound overblown with just about anyone else, arrangements are sparing enough that everything comes out sounding simple and inevitable. Piano-driven as always, mandolin is added with great effect to “Greek Song.” The focus manages to remain on Wainright’s songwriting and singing, which emerges more confident and less wistful than his debut. Beats are added to “Shadows” and “The Tower of Learning” and samples to “Grey Gardens” and he even collaborates with the likes of the Propellerhead.
Wainwright’s love of opera and Broadway shows in Poses’ scope (especially “Evil Angel”), but rather than overdone or pretentious, it’s scraped down to perfect cabaret-pop proportions. Elegiac and gorgeous, this album could single-handedly redeem us from the empty vulgarity of MTV culture. (Dreamworks)