Rufus Wainwright is gloriously pompous. Born of poetry slams and theater classes, he’s every bit in touch with his inner-drama queen. Maybe it’s the pretentious French verses or the blaring French horns sprinkled throughout his sophomore opus, Poses, but it’s hard to imagine good ol’ Ruffie without a cigarette and a beret (or a cigarette and a glass of chocolate milk, as the album’s opening and closing tracks attest). The album’s 13 tracks are paced languidly, only picking up steam for the hearty sake of theatrics (“Evil Angel”). Despite several moments of overzealous showmanship, though, Wainwright truly shines amid the sparkling yet simple arrangements and minimalist drum programming of tracks like “Shadows” and “The Tower of Learning.” The candid songwriter possesses the vocal timbre of Thom Yorke and the lyrical irreverence of Tori Amos (“Playing with prodigal sons takes a lot of sentimental valiums/Can’t expect the world to be your Raggedy Andy”); and how can you fault a man who can sing “Whiffs of freon and my new grandma, Bea Arthur” and still take himself so seriously?
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