ALBUM REVIEWS


Bleu
FOUR
LOJINX RECORDS 25.10.10
@www.vanguard-online.co.uk



The first thing that struck me about this album is the cover art – the Kodachrome family photos ooze seventies and eighties childhood nostalgia – oddly Bleu’s father looks uncannily like one of my older cousins as I remember him from our family get togethers circa 1982.

The second thing that hits you is the sheer confidence and exuberance of the music. This was a pleasant surprise given the low profile image portrayed. First track ‘Singin’ In Tongues’ has everything played at full throttle – crunching guitars, soaring sax, xylophone - the lot (can’t think of an appropriate adjective for playing a xylophone ferociously). This technique generates an effect where the whole song sounds like a rousing finale – similar to Springsteen in his boisterous heyday. Born William James McAuley III in Boston (the Massachusetts one not the Lincolnshire one) he raucously celebrates his home town on the second track, even managing to do spelling singing -‘I.A.M.F.R.O.M.B.OS.T.O.N, Boston!’ which is tricky to pull off without sounding clunky.

The energy and self-belief flowing from those first two tracks is remarkable. When you read up further and find that he’s dabbled in power pop super-groups (a tribute to E.L.O. called L.E.O) alongside members of Jellyfish, Hanson and Chicago this doesn’t come as a great shock. But it’s not all punch the air power pop though – there are sensitive, vulnerable ballads too. Tracks like ‘In Love with My Lover’ provide vital light and shade.

This is his fourth album – hence the somewhat unimaginative title, and was funded by donations from fans via the Kickstarter website to the tune of $27,000. Despite being relatively unknown (particularly in the UK) he’s already penned songs for such massive major-label going concerns as Jonas Brothers (but don’t let that put you off) and had tracks featured on blockbuster movie soundtracks such as Spiderman – not entirely surprising given the epic scope and self assurance of some of the tracks on this album.

Elsewhere he shows great versatility with tracks like the foreboding atmosphere of ‘Evil Twin’ and the brooding, bizarrely titled ‘Ya Catch More Flies with Honey Than Vinegar’, with lyrics like ‘Don’t be afraid to cry like a baby/just lie in your cradle/and shout like a stadium crowd’ showcasing his talent at penning an evocative turn of phrase as well as hook-laden tunes.

Even if you’ve never previously heard of Bleu like me, I would suggest that after listening to this album a few times you’ll soon begin to wonder just where he has been all your life.


Steve Claire

www.bleutopia.com