It’s not easy to think of another contemporary pop artist who uses lush, orchestral arrangements (in this case, he employs the London Session Orchestra) and the essence of cabaret as extravagantly as does Rufus Wainwright. Release the Stars continues his foray into cross-breeding musical genres, with great success. There is plenty of drama throughout (starting with “Do I Disappoint You,” swelling with strings, flutes and horns, and ending with a skull-smashing), but a stinging dose of humor is smartly woven into the mix: the epic “Slideshow” has our narrator wondering if it’s really love, or perhaps the medication? In “Tulsa,” we are privy to a not entirely successful romantic encounter in Oklahoma, with the disclaimer, “This is just a reminder / of the antiques shop I want to go back to and visit when it’s open,” hurriedly sung at the end with perfect comedic timing, as if meant to clarify the song’s intent. Wainwright gets serious, too, alluding both to war and to religious extremism in the anti-American “Going to a Town” (“do you really think you go to hell for having loved?”). On the stark, piano-driven “Leaving for Paris No. 2,” you can almost see the French countryside whizzing by outside the rain-streaked train window, with the camera pulling back to reveal one beautifully shaved and moisturized cheek, marred by a single tear track.