Dreamworks - 2005 - 60 minutes

When Rufus Wainwright released 'Want One' in 2003, the sessions preceding the album were so prolific that it was announced that a follow-up would be released as a companion piece. The only surprise about 'Want Two' therefore, is that it took this long to see the light of day. In every other way, it's simply 'want one more'.

Sex, relationships, drugs: Wainwright's lyrical fascinations remain constant throughout 'Want Two', and once again they are saturated in camp, quasi-operatic orchestrations. And the Canadian's voice, which was so stirring on his stunning 2001 effort 'Poses', has become something of a whine, and a lazy one.

Most of the songs here are lush, highly polished efforts. Tellingly though, the most pared down track, 'The Art Teacher', is also the most memorable. Here Wainwright foregoes the pomp, as he recounts his love for a tutor in a subtle but moving portrait anchored by a chromatic piano melody. Coupled with the trance of 'Waiting for a Dream', and the gentle funk of 'Old Whore's Diet', this is as good as it gets.

Elsewhere, 'Want Two' is undone by its overt smugness. For all its grandiose leanings, it's too often mired in ennui. The two French language tracks which close the album only add to the air of self-importance, and further convince that Wainwright is guilty of hubris of galling proportions.

He has a rare and splendid talent, and his multi-tasking here reflects his reservoir of ability, so it's frustrating to see Wainwright going backwards. The level of self-indulgence on the Want sessions is simply nauseating, but if half as much attention was put into the melodies and arrangements then it wouldn't matter so much. But as it stands, 'Want Two' is histrionic pop at its most infuriating.

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Agnus Dei - The One You Love - Peach Trees - Little Sister - The Art Teacher - Hometown Waltz - This Love Affair - Gay Messiah - Memphis Skyline - Waiting for a Dream - Crumb By Crumb - Old Whore's Diet - Coeur de Parisienne-Reprise d'Arletty - Quand Vous Mourez de Nos Amours