Six years after songwriter and popmeister Bleu
briefly flirted with mainstream success -- a song on the soundtrack to Spiderman and a distribution deal with Columbia for his album Redhead
-- he's finally gotten around to releasing a follow-up, A Watched Pot
, and while the title seems to hint at the record's extended gestation period, the results sound polished and professional without suggesting Bleu
has been worrying this material during his downtime. Bleu'
s music is smart and laden with hooks, and the production by John Fields
makes the most of the melodies, adding a solid crunch when the tunes are supposed to rock, a solid old-school R&B groove when he feels like dancing, and a swooning vulnerability when Bleu
is wearing his heart on his sleeve. Or rather, when he acts like he's wearing his heart on his sleeve -- many of the songs on A Watched Pot
walk a fine line between a true romantic's sincerity and a snarky air of sarcasm, summed up in "No Such Thing as Love" and "I Won't Fuck You Over (This Time)." While over in the country singer/songwriters section Lyle Lovett
has built a career around characters who embody this sort of duality, Lovett
can negotiate the balance in a way that makes his characters sound dastardly but interesting, while Bleu
generally just seems shallow when he tries the same trick. This failing is all the more frustrating since A Watched Pot
is a great-sounding
pop album, with just enough contemporary sheen to make it a clear product of the present day while revealing the ear of a classicist who has learned from a lot of great records of the '70s and '80s. Ultimately, A Watched Pot
is the work of an artist who writes great tunes but could use some help with the words -- anyone know a good lyricist who likes to write about guys who are a little on the shifty side?