October 16 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 26  

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Rufus Wainwright
Want One

Despite the excesses of Want One — lush instrumentation, musical-theatre-style arrangements and busy cover art — Rufus Wainwright is just a lonely guy.

During 14 introspective songs, Wainwright wonders why he’s “always on a plane or a fast train” (“Oh What a World”) and asks the Lord what he’s done to himself (“Vicious World”).

Like most of the Wainwright catalogue, Want One is wrapped in romanticism and it doesn’t get more passionate than the melodic “Go or Go Ahead,” a drop-dead gorgeous mini-epic that starts softly, but eventually kicks into an atmospheric rock ballad akin to mid-’90s Radiohead. As soon as Wainwright ponders, “What has happened to love?” you want to shake him and make him realize he put it all into his record.

—Brian Wong


Though NME bestows them the honour of the “treasured title of the New Radiohead,” Leaves sound closer to a Coldplay cover band, though they are unable to produce anything nearly as catchy as Coldplay. They also lack the creative vision and sheer ingenuity of Radiohead.

Overtop the typical drum-guitar-bass-whiny-guy-voice foundation lies a beautiful and complex series of trippy layered guitar effects, brooding string arrangements and delicate piano. In fact, some of the most enjoyable moments on the album are purely instrumental, unfortunately, even the ornate production can’t compensate for the mediocrity of the songs. If you simply can’t wait for the next Coldplay, Breathe is a quick fix; but don’t worry, you’re unlikely to get hooked.

—Colin J. Fleming

Agent 000
Spincycle Recordings

Mysterio’s debut album Agent 000 comes complete with accolades of self-proclaimed greatness, but in reality, the CD is average. High expectations are great for bands taking risks, but Mysterio’s music is way too benign for such hype.

Agent 000 is not a bad album, but there are no particularly stellar passages. The music comes off as a competent but bland display of blustery hoopla; it’s easily digestible, but somewhat hollow, reflecting pop at its most simplistic. The vocals are pleasant, but often affect the same overblown, falsetto sincerity of Matt Good at his worst.

The grand designs of Mysterio may exist with the best intentions; unfortunately the execution reeks of true blue cheesiness.

—Jeremy Shaw

Various Artists
Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot
Borealis Records

Since the early ’60s, singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot has inspired countless musicians. This 15-track album includes sublime covers by the Cowboy Junkies, Ron Sexsmith and Blue Rodeo, to name a few. These and other contributors add their own instrumentation to the songs without ruining their sentimental originality.

Bruce Cockburn creates his own version of “Ribbon of Darkness” using the baritone guitar and mandolins to enhance the track’s epic quality.

—Gabriella Barillari



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