Release The Stars

  • Record Label: Geffen
  • Release Date: May 15, 2007

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Complex, melodramatic, ambitious, vain, beautiful and frequently magnificent - Release the Stars may not yield many chart hits, but it feels like an album that will endure.
  2. It is different in many ways, but never neglects the melodic, vocal and lyrical genius that has established, and will continue to establish, his status as one of the all time greats.
  3. Filter
    A record that leaves the listener teary-eyed, standing and utterly, breathlessly inspired. [#25, p.92]
  4. This is so rich, so intelligent, so feeling, that most of us will throw our hands limply in the air and join voices with mum Kate McGarrigle who, according to the dedication on the back, "still whispers in my ear that I'm great".
  5. It’s as warm and forgiving and generously tender a collection of songs as you’ll hear all year.
  6. Uncut
    Possibly [his] best album. [Jun 2007, p.84]
  7. Mojo
    Like [Brian Wilson's] Smile, it extends the language of pop, setting a fearsome standard for anyone equal to the challenge of matching his limitless invention. [Jun 2007, p.98]
  8. Release The Stars swoons and sweeps until the final curtain and Rufus Wainwright has delivered music perfectly suited for the elaborate set of the world around us.
  9. His melodies — and what melodies they are — are drowned out by the bombast. But he still yearns more beautifully than anyone.
  10. He’s an acquired taste, perhaps, but a distinctive and extraordinarily talented songwriter.
  11. A wonderful album, packed with stunning melodies and brilliant lyrics.
  12. Release The Stars, if not a step forward, is at worst a side-step en route on to a knockout album.
  13. It's another strong effort, but someone might have checked the orchestral excesses, which sometimes get in the way of the songs.
  14. His music always offers an emotional complexity to mirror its melodic sophistication.
  15. Release the Stars is a coherent, sophisticated exposition of the usual Wainwright themes, but it won’t be the shooting-into-mainstream pop-rock opus Wainwright was potentially hoping for.
  16. Spin
    The songs are actually strong enough to hold the weight of the over-the-top arrangements. [Jun 2007, p.96]
  17. It feels more like a collection of tracks than a cohesive work.
  18. Remarkably, Mr. Wainwright infuses “Release the Stars” with enough honest emotion to overcome the grandiosity, or at least undercut it a bit.
  19. Billboard
    Though the final third of the album drags a touch as Wainwright lets up on the heart-pounding melodrama, the highs here are exceptional. [19 May 2007]
  20. Blender
    The songs are more blustery than ever. [Jun 2007, p.108]
  21. Such frequent attempts to elevate the banal into the meaningful ultimately keep Release the Stars from achieving any significant momentum and only add weight to the notion that Wainwright's shaky aim-- rather than his lack of talent-- might be his biggest downfall.
  22. As a whole, the album feels less definite, less driven, than the 'Want…' albums, which is both a strength and a weakness.
  23. The real problem with Stars is that the most poignant, affecting songs sound like natural, and somewhat neutral, follow-ups to his other songs.
  24. Rolling Stone
    Only a slight improvement [over Want Two]. [14 Jun 2007, p.102]
  25. While these songs are lushly produced, often with full orchestration, and while Wainwright has a knack for pretty, lilting melodies and concrete imagery there is nonetheless a distinct lack of pop hooks here.
  26. Someone needs to tell Wainwright there's a huge difference between 'epic' and 'over-egged'.
  27. Under The Radar
    Most of Stars ends up feeling like a sleight of hand; pay no attention to the lack of accessibility, but instead be distracted by the unecessarily grandiose 'I'm Not Ready to Love.' [Summer 2007, p.86]
  28. It's an ornate, dizzying affair, where all his interests and talents collide in one brazen gesture. It's impressive in scope, but where does that leave the listener? Possibly with a headache.
  29. Beneath the haughty schmaltz of his fifth LP—embodying Herb Albert one moment and a particularly peach-scented Little River Band the next—there are only momentary flashes of the high-quality torch songs we fell for so long ago.
  30. The outlandish baroque-cubed excess here, from the warbling chorales to the bleating woodwinds, weighs down track after track after track after track.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 76 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 58
  2. Negative: 3 out of 58
  1. Apr 7, 2012
    Altogether it's a good & enjoyable effort -- and a welcome end to the Want One's & Two's! As Rufus sings "I'm tired of writing elegies to boredom!"
  2. AdamW
    Nov 17, 2007
    Exce[tional - a real grower of an album - sounded like a bit of an albatross on first play but now I just can't get enough of it. The Exce[tional - a real grower of an album - sounded like a bit of an albatross on first play but now I just can't get enough of it. The grandiose "Slideshow" and the exuberant "Do I Disappoint You" are standout tracks, but the tender and vulnerable "Not Ready To Love" is also exceptional. Production-wise, a shower of an album. Musically, a definite grower. Give it a chance. Full Review »
  3. SYanoff
    Oct 4, 2007
    It's no Poses (his previous album, which is just excellent). There's a couple of skip-able songs on here, some go on too long, and It's no Poses (his previous album, which is just excellent). There's a couple of skip-able songs on here, some go on too long, and nothing that grabs you the way Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk or Tower of Learning do. Rufus shines on the politically-charged spots (Going to a Town) and risque (Between My Legs). Full Review »