I’m not the world’s biggest Rufus Wainwright fan by any stretch of the imagination – He’s always been a marvelous performer in search of material that’s worth his attention, to me, with his own songs constantly falling short of that mark – but the vocal hook of his comeback single “Out of The Game” is another of those earworms that works where the rest of the song just doesn’t. Up until the “Look at you/Look at you/Look at you/[Unintelligible]” bit (Seriously, does he say “Sometimes”? “Sundance”? I can’t make it out, but that doesn’t matter, it’s the sound of the word, the feeling of release it brings after that build) at 0:51, this is an astoundingly generic song, but then that hook comes in and decides it likes the look of your inner brain and might just move in. Good job, Mr. Wainwright; here’s hoping there’s a song that has that stickiness all the way through on your new album.
What’s really interesting about the song to me, though, is the sound of it. It’s Mark Ronson producing and he’s apparently moved from the retro-60s of his Amy Winehouse and Version period (and the retro-80s of his Record Collection album, for that matter) to something very firmly 1970s and Californian. Listen to the sound of the guitars here; you can almost imagine syrupy-album cover photo the song would’ve had had it been released in 1976 and fighting with Elton John to top the sales charts. There’s something seductive about such fidelity to the original aural experience, but it leaves me wondering where Ronson will go next. Surely ’90s retro would just sound like ’60s retro again…?