Review Summary: Rufus Wainwright’s out of the game, sure, but if he were comfortable enough in his shoes then this would not be a problem.
Rufus Wainwright could not have possibly picked a better title for his latest album, as he has never really been in the game to begin with. Sure, he has made quite the name for himself over the years, but although his name holds an air of prestige he seemingly does not possess the introspective understanding as is necessary for success. Out of the Game
’s cover is a testament to the man’s eccentric style, yet much of the album’s lyrical content is regarding Wainwright not understanding the attention-grabbing tendencies of today’s youth. It is contradictory for a Bowie-influenced musician to be confused at this particular brand of self-advertising, seeing as this is one way that Wainwright has stayed afloat over the years. But this type of swagger has never been a problem for the New York born songwriter until now–even here, most of Out of the Game
rolls along easily because of the man’s smooth execution.
Successful execution or not, the lyrics are uncomfortably vapid. “Look at you, suckers!/Does your mama know what you’re doin’?” is a poor main hook of the title-track single, and only serves to age Wainwright beyond what his fans are looking for. If he is looking to alienate his fan base then the even clumsier verses of “Montauk” certainly serve their purpose. “One day you will come to Montauk/and you will see your dad wearing a kimono/and see your other dad pruning roses,” he indifferently croons over a melody that is supposed to be significant. All this lyrical pussyfooting around only spoils the man’s credibility, while what he truly needs is to reassert his mettle. Out of the Game trips more than it triumphs, and various exhausting moments cripple Wainwright and the reputation he so earnestly has worked for.
Oh, how the album certainly falls in some places. “Welcome to the Ball” is an instance of a song that’s bouncy, sure, but in an unsettling way. The cringe-worthy trumpeted bridge does the track no benefits, either. But for the most part, the music to be found here is enjoyable in its own right. As an example, it is apparent that David Bowie had quite an influence. There is a spacey atmosphere that pervades particular tracks like “Montauk”, and it is reminiscent of the flamboyant Ziggy Stardust, over his head with ambition. Wainwright’s voice is exemplary, as well, going from crooning softer tunes to more lively dance anthems. The massive misstep, though, is how the tracks are put together. The groan-inducing “Bitter Tears” is even infuriating, not only because of the obscenely dated frosty-synth utilized but also for how the track meanders.
Much of Out of the Game
seems to have little purpose other than perhaps what the title suggests, and this artistic boredom is what prevents Wainwright from gaining more of a following. Even on “Respectable Dive,” maybe the most impressive track on the album, the musician sounds as if he is just doing his job. Going through the motions with a baneful daze. There is no hint of passion and this mechanical mindset obfuscates the album’s purpose in the end. Rufus Wainwright’s out of the game, sure, but if he were comfortable enough in his shoes then this would not be a problem.