Rufus Wainwright

Dudes insecure about their sexuality, be warned: Release the Stars, the latest Rufus Wainwright disc, is one of the gayest recordings since the Communards sang "There's more to love than boy meets girl." Still, Wainwright's love of excess and willingness to push his compositions too far — and then a little farther — turns the album into a spectacle capable of thrilling listeners of every sexual predilection. "Do I Disappoint You?," which opens the set, is the sort of tune most artists would save for a showstopper; it features swelling orchestration and what sounds like a choir of Valkyries. Somehow, though, Wainwright manages to up the ante with "Going to a Town," an urbane social critique that pivots on the line "I'm so tired of America." Pop music doesn't get much more sophisticated, yet Wainwright, performing alongside Sean Lennon and A Fine Frenzy, is no standoffish intellectual. Every note is infused with the sort of passion and personality that's sorely lacking in too much current pop music. If that's gay, sign me up.


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