Anyone who has heard Bleu (or William James McAuley III, to give him his birth name) won’t be surprised to learn that he owns a pig called Kevin Bacon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this Boston native, this fact is a suitably quirky introduction to his diverse, slightly left-of-centre blend of superb pop-rock and power pop.

He has been lazily labelled as avant garde, but Bleu is a true superstar in the making and a throwback to the days of real showmen, and as such, there’s nothing bland or uniform about Redhead, his second full-length release. He initially came to attention when his song, “Somebody Else” was featured on the Spiderman soundtrack last year, and he has built on the success of that song to create a wonderfully infectious, fresh and original-sounding record.

Power pop gem “Get Up” positively bursts out of the blocks, immediately confirming Bleu’s presence as a vibrant frontman and talented songwriter, while the brilliant “I Won’t Go Hollywood” builds on that momentum spectacularly. Pledging to remain true to himself while ensconced in the LA lifestyle, Bleu sings, “No one here is where I’m from or where I wanna be / We all get drunk from too much sun and don’t know who to be.”

Bleu manages to consistently surprise with his songwriting themes and lyrical abilities, as in the aforementioned “Somebody Else” and the cosmic-flavoured “Searching for the Satellites”, while “Watching You Sleep” is a delicate sounding tune with a clever, creepy undertone due to its theme of an obsessed man stalking his prey.

Elsewhere, Bleu delivers some good old-fashioned pop rock on “Trust Me” and apes Cheap Trick on the soaring, witty ballad, “We’ll Do It All Again”. Talents such as Dan Wilson, Phil Solemn and Andy Sturner have obviously recognised Blue’s potential and pitch in with guest appearances on a number of songs, of which “Something’s Gotta Give” (his collaboration with Wilson) is the standout.

In an age of airbrushed and manufactured bands and artists, it’s refreshing to discover someone with real star quality and musical talent to match. The fact that Bleu owns such a wonderfully named pig, and admits it, is an added bonus.

Aware Records:

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