Rufus Wainwright croons and cries through another set of obscenely lush and opulent pop operettas on his third album Want One. As is to be expected, the songs are meticulously layered and richly textured, with full orchestral passages and many-throated harmonies. Producer Marius deVries (Björk, Massive Attack, Madonna) didn't mess with the already successful Wainwright sound, allowing for the young singer/ songwriter/multi-instrumentalist to explore his familiar themes of love, loss, and "singin' about places" with the anticipated fanfare and flourish. The album's strongest segment comes in the middle, beginning with the intimate-to-epic "Go or Go Ahead," barreling through the wildly spinning rock opera "14th Street," and landing softly on the gently chiming "Natasha." Oddly, unlike his previous two releases, Wainwright's musings seem less focused and a little meandering on a handful of the songs. The lazy, loping "Want" is much more stream-of-consciousness than anything else he's recorded, and the slightly goofy "Vibrate" (with its references to Britney Spears and electroclash) may sound dated before the album is played a second time. The sessions that produced Want One were apparently so prolific that another volume (Want Two?) is in the works, but it could turn out to be that distilling both albums down to one would have made for a more complete overall work. Who knows, this new looseness to his rigid pop constructivism may end up being a good thing, and, frankly, Wainwright could be singing lists of names out of the phone book and it would still be more exciting and inventive than 99 percent of the other albums out there.
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AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson