Rufus Wainwright - Rules And Regulations (Universal)
14 Aug 2007
"with the sound of cash registers ringing in his ears it may take a while for him to set his sights elsewhere, but it will be an interesting journey nonetheless..."; release - '07
As confident and optimistic as Rufus Wainwright clearly is, even he must have felt that the chance of him breaking through to the mainstream was becoming ever more slight as the albums went by. Having overcome a battle with drugs that resulted in temporary blindness, he's not one to give up without a fight, and it's not been down to a lack of trying -his two 'Want' albums were celebrated to the hilt- but just a general indifference from the record buying public.
All of this seems to have changed this time, with 'Release The Stars' reaching number two in the UK and breaking the top thirty in America. Part of this turn around could be down to Wainwright claiming in interviews to have toned down his musical eccentricities and that he was, to quote, "aiming for the sound of cash registers". Such glib sound bites need to be taken with a huge dollop of salt, as anyone who has heard 'Release The Stars' can attest. First single 'Going To A Town' may rely on simple piano chords and minimal accompaniment, but lyrically it attacks, amongst other things, America's views on homosexuality.
Second single 'Rules And Regulations' may not contain any political-minded lyrics, but it certainly ups the musical quota. Starting with double bass and twinkling keyboards, it ebbs and flows nicely before taking in horns, huge-sounding backing vocals, recorders and a hint of the kitchen sink. But then it wouldn't be a Rufus Wainwright song if it weren't overblown, theatrical and downright camp. Lyrically, it finds Wainwright in a surprisingly modest frame of mind, even if his tongue is still firmly in his cheek; "I will never be as cute as you/ According to the board of human relations".
One skill Wainwright has perfected over the last few albums is the ability to know when to utilise his vast array of instrumentation and when to step back slightly. Around the three and a half minute mark, with the horns reaching a crescendo and the motto "I love everyone" being belted out, things suddenly calm down to leave a lovely recorder solo that carries the whole thing to a beautiful calm. It's during these moments you realise what a talent he is. With the sound of cash registers ringing in his ears it may take a while for him to set his sights elsewhere, but it will be an interesting journey nonetheless.
Watch the video to 'Rules and Regulations' on Rockfeedback HERE.