Highlights: Out Of The Game, Rashida, Bitter Tears, Perfect Man
I remember reading one of Rufus’s more recent interviews in which he claimed that his new album (produced by Mark Ronson, no less) is going to be different. Different in that it will mark his embracing pop music totally and completely. Not really sure how Mr Wainwright defines pop music, but Out Of The Game holds no surprises. Lush, richly produced, romantic affair – in no way is it different from, say, Release The Stars. For the record, it is a pop record. And a brilliant one at that.
I hear very little of Ronson on Out Of The Game. Not that the whole thing had to be infused with heavy layers of horns (oh yes we have those) or something, but the changes are very slight indeed. Maybe the production is a little more intricate this time, what with all the neat instrumental nuances in the background, but otherwise we’re deep and safe in Rufus’s gorgeous, velvety territory. (Have another look at that cover.)
Which is fine by me. Classy, impeccable collection of regal pop melodies, waves of backup vocals (mostly or all female) and that charming, seductive voice that is as passionate as it is nonchalant. Some of this stuff may be quite playful (the gloriously old-fashioned “Welcome To The Ball”, the funky “Perfect Man”) and some slow and wistful (the acoustic “Sometimes What You Need”, closing “Candles” with its effective bagpipe coda), but it is all imbued with equally stylish and tasteful vibes. "Bitter Tears" is about as good as intelligent pop music can get - making you feel that in the end there really was some truth in Rufus's claims.
Easy 8 for Out Of The Game. Luxurious sounding album that becomes even more priceless on further listens.