Wainwright’s 10th studio album is a lush, engaging study in domestic bliss
After almost a decade working in other fields – most notably on his second opera and a project putting Shakespeare’s sonnets to music – Rufus Wainwright has recorded his first straightforwardly pop album since 2012’s Out of the Game. Whereas that record, produced by Mark Ronson, was immersed in 70s soft-rock sounds, Unfollow the Rules marks a welcome return to the opulent orchestration of Wainwright’s early albums.
There’s a genuine sense of contentedness here. Peaceful Afternoon, written for his husband, Jörn Weisbrodt, is an irresistible, guitar-driven paean to domestic bliss (“Between sex and death and tryin’ to keep the kitchen clean”), while the tender My Little You is addressed to Wainwright’s now nine-year-old daughter, Viva. There’s humour, too: Bexhill-on-Sea does not feature much in music folklore, but an encounter there with some over-enthusiastic female fans was the source material for This One’s for the Ladies (That Lunge!), a sumptuous ballad. Elsewhere, he takes lyrical inspiration from Anna Wintour, Joni Mitchell and forgotten statues in west London.