RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Want One (DreamWorks/Universal) Rating: NNN
Rufus, honey, the martyr complex is getting a bit tired. As much as I love the soaring, deliriously extravagant Henry Mancini-meets-Freddie Mercury cabaret chamber pop, with its over-the-top string and horn arrangements and fey homo lyrics, I miss the tongue-in-cheek irony that gave Poses its charming edge. Sure, the middle section of Want One (the first volume of a planned two-part series) is up there with Wainwright's best work, from the stripped-down piano ballad Pretty Things through the theatrical swirl of 14th Street to the brassy epic Harvester Of Hearts. But the rest teeters on the edge of self-indulgence. Maybe it's due to the absence of producer Pierre Marchand, the man who keeps Sarah McLachlan in check.