With its psychologically potent songs and gorgeous arrangements, Want One stands out as one of 2003’s best albums, substantiating Rufus Wainwright’s status as a major artist with a style all his own. But the four-song Waiting for a Want offers no further revelations; it simply marks time while Wainwright completes work on projected companion piece Want Two.
The EP is split down the middle between the art song, which is right in Rufus’ sweet spot, and sociocultural commentary, which is not. “Gay Messiah” and “Waiting for a Dream”—his responses to the troubled state of the nation—are earnest enough but hardly the sort of material that invites repeated spins. Far more engaging are the short-story-like “Art Teacher,” in which a lonely woman looks back on a delirious schoolgirl crush, and the lush ballad “This Love Affair,” which finds Wainwright trying his hand at concocting a modern-day standard and pulling it off with just the right mood and texture. Let’s hope that Geffen Records, which took over Wainwright’s label, DreamWorks, allows Want Two (which the artist has said will feature his “weird” side) to see the light of day. Let’s also hope that Want Two turns out to be more coherent than this spotty interim EP.