The most captivating aspect of Rufus Wainwright is that he always sounds as if music and performance require no effort whatsoever. Wainwright’s singing sounds as natural as breathing. His voice speaks volumes, even when it is barely above a whisper. To him, crafting emotive and immersive music is simply a reflex. He doesn’t seem to have to think about what he is saying or playing. It simply pours forth with a gripping honesty that leaves the listener touched and wondering.
On his new album, Want One, Wainwright returns with a recording full of splendor, rich orchestration, captivating vibrato, and of course, a healthy helping of majestically theatrical song writing. From the waddling stomp of, “Oh, What A World,” the haunting confrontation of “Pretty Things,” and the yearning lists of “Want,” Wainwright is somehow able to shed new light on the timeworn theme of love, as in being in, falling out of, and simply searching for.
He is not tackling any surprisingly new concepts, but it is a testament to Wainwright’s skill as a songwriter that the words and sounds feel so fresh. They might make you forget about most of the love songs you’ve heard before.
That Wainwright does so with a certain level of restraint and understatement is what makes these songs so compelling. Wainwright doesn’t sound tired, but rather subdued. At times he wavers on the verge of mumbling, his voice shaking and peaking at just the right moments to draw the ear close enough to pay attention. The songs are far from subtle, but Wainwright creates an unmistakable intimacy with his music. Want One feels like a lost loved one calling out and asking you to listen. The songs sound as if they know you, and you are much better off knowing them.
-Robert James Algeo
Results May Vary
While at one time Limp Bizkit’s chauvinistically confrontational music could have been enjoyed out of a certain sense of irony, Results May Vary may very well be one of the most artistically worthless albums ever recorded.
Even the title is flawed. The results do not vary throughout the album. It is actually quite consistent: consistently detestable.
The album begins with an annoyingly presumptuous skit praising the collection of songs that follow. The fact that any band would attempt to verbally convince the listener of an album’s worth before the first song actually starts is an obvious sign they are compensating for something. In this case, complete lack of talent.
Frontman Fred Durst’s once commendable self-confidence quickly descends into the depths of self-parody as he hollers poetic wonders like, “When I’m fiening [sic] for a microphone/I’m a microphone fiend,” and, “I’m out of sight y’all.” Durst never possessed that much actual charisma in the first place, but he was able to attract attention by acting as angry as humanly possible.
Now, after several albums, the anger and the rage have become so postured and predictable, it would be cute if it wasn’t so unentertaining. And let’s not forget the music itself: boring, contrived and completely homogenized.
Limp Bizkit’s biggest problem is that their biggest influence is Limp Bizkit. They need to get over themselves and their unfortunate mental condition that leads them to believe they have anything worth saying, much less listening to.
-Robert James Algeo
WAR ALL THE TIME
Thursday’s new album, War All The Time, brings new meaning to the phrase “scream your head off.”
The record frolics in the blood-curdling screams and heart-wrenching vocal barrage of singer Geoff Rickly.
The mood is unrelentingly dark and somber. It often dips in and out of post Sept. 11 frustration and anger, but remains stern and focused.
Guitarists Steve Pedulla and Tom Keeley provide a killer one-two punch of chainsaw guitars and big-bottom riffing.
Tracks like, “For The Workforce,” “Drowning,” and, “Division St.,” growl and snarl with ferocious intensity.
The key to Thursday’s successful formula remains their ability to musically fire on all cylinders. Steel mill guitars whimper and howl with each painstaking lyric. Rickly’s looming voice echoes with genuine intensity as he carefully wraps his fragile voice around each hook.
The entire band puts every ounce of its blood, sweat and tears into each lyric and riff. Even the piano ballad “This Song Is Brought To You By A Falling Bomb” is drenched in emotion as Rickly’s frail cry swirls with discord and gloom.
On War All The Time, Thursday reaches deep down into its guts to pull out one of the most open and honest records released in a long, long time.
It is a rare band that puts so much energy into creating something so pure, while speaking volumes about the depths of despair and heartache.
Artist In The Ambulance
Sometimes releasing a good record isn’t enough. Certain albums are delivered with such tremendous hype from the media that there is no way a band could live up to it. Thrice is one such band.
Both mainstream and alternative music magazines have been plastered with articles about Thrice, practically proclaiming them to be the second coming of The Beatles.
Happily, while Thrice’s major label debut, Artist in the Ambulance, does not come close to fulfilling the hype, it is indeed a very solid record.
The band sticks with the same formula they used on their previous two releases; a fusion of politically-oriented lyrics, metal guitar riffs and breakneck punk drumming. The playing is suitably technical without being overly challenging.
On this album, obviously, Thrice is afforded a much higher production value and a great deal of polish on the recording.
The fact that singer Dustin Kensrue’s vocals switch from screaming to tender melody is dynamic, but unfortunate enough to automatically file Thrice under this month’s buzzword, “scream-o.”
The opening track, “Cold Cash in Colder Hearts,” is a statement on the ignorant bliss in which America lives. These social touches are nice, but it is songs like the melancholy, “Stare At The Sun,” that show the group has a bit more than whining in mind.