Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bleu – ‘Four’

I get to listen to an insane amount of music these days and, being the musical whore that I am, plenty of it’s well worth a spin even if I don’t always get round to blogging about it (that bathroom won’t clean itself you know...and I ain’t gonna miss Deal Or No Deal). But, from time to time, something grabs me from the second I stick it on. This album – a magical mix of Springsteen, Lennon, ELO, Stax and all sorts of other musical loveliness – is one of those. I’d never heard of Bleu (aka William James McAuley III) before and I doubt whether you have, he doesn’t seem to have played over here in the UK much but a quick search on Wikipedia reveals that this is his fourth album...hence the title. Clever eh? Okay, maybe not. What is smart though is the way Will’s managed to put this album out. After 'differences' with his previous label left him in the lurch he used fundraising site Kickstarter to generate the £17,000 he needed to pay for the recording. As the big labels fold or withdraw from supporting new artists this fan funded model seems to be picking up the pieces. Thank god for that eh, otherwise all we’d be left with is compilation and greatest hits albums and the latest X Factor ‘product’. Anyway, enough of the back story, what about the album? Here’s a brief track by track breakdown, but trust me you need to hear this one for yourself:

Springsteening the album off in distinctly ‘Born To Run’ style opening number ‘Speakin’ In Tongues’ is an utterly irresistible slab of horn driven power pop with an instantly catchy chorus. Just glorious. Like the Boss’s seminal track it’s got that same sense of energy and ‘me against the world’ attitude too. Now that’s how you start an album. ‘B.O.S.T.O.N’ comes hot on its heels, one man’s love letter to his hometown with some rowdy shoutalongs recalling a particularly lively night in a Boston bar. Cheers. Then the whole pace shifts to the distinctly Lennon-ish How Blue, with Will doing his best tremulous vocal (a little Thom Yorke in places too actually) against a to die for lush orchestral arrangement.

After this interlude its back to pedal to the metal power pop with the Stax horned 'Dead In the Mornin’ which fades in at a fair old pace like a Chevvy coming over the horizon. It’s like opening the door to that Boston bar again and finding the band in full flow. Neat. Trust me, if they were ever going to remake The Blues Brothers this track would be a dead cert for the title tune.

‘In Love With My Lover’ has a country and western tinge to it, then ‘When The Shit Hits The Fan’ makes fine use of that orchestra again (he did all this for £17,000...seriously?), the perfect setting for some pretty dark lyrics about that time in life when everything goes down the shitter. Hell, we’ve all been there.

'I’ll Know It When I See It’ is one of the few tracks in history to use that Rolf Harris breathy thing (you know that “Waahahahah” thing he does) and get away with it, given Will’s outbreak of the giggles at the end of the song maybe even he recognises it’s a close call. The brooding ‘Evil Twin’ looks at the darker side we all have (possibly after a night back in that Boston bar) then ‘Ya Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar’ (wise words) and ‘Everything Is Fine’ end the album proper in a more reflective mood.

Listen long enough and you get to the hidden track ‘MY Own Personal Jesus’, not an out and out religious track (happily), more an expression of Will’s seemingly fruitless (so far) search for faith. I wouldn’t bother Will. Anyone who can come up with an album as joyful as this one is truly blessed. Hear...endeth the lesson. Amen.

'Four' is out 25th October on Lojinx Records

Bleu’s also playing the following live dates in the UK...starting tonight!
12 Oct 2010 - Farncombe Cavern, Farncombe
13 Oct 2010 - The Grapevine, Norwich
16 Oct 2010 - The Drawing Room, Chesham
17 Oct 2010 - The Living Room, Oxford
23 Oct 2010 - The Borderline, London
24 Oct 2010 - The Haymakers, Cambridge

No gig in Birmingham though! Shame! What's he doing on the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd October eh?


Anonymous said...

The man is a genius and deserves to be a household name.

The Baron said...

Glad you agree. It's a cracking album. Right up there as a power pop classic. Spread the word!

Real Gone said...

Surprisingly good, with a few really great cuts! Read my review of 'Four' here: http://realgonerocks.blogspot.com/2010/12/bleu-four.html

The Baron said...

Cheers Real Gone. Great review by the way!