Blue Bob, the self-titled debut from director David Lynch and collaborator John Neff's musical project, delivers a moody, edgy, rock-based sound that is similar to the work the duo introduced on the soundtrack to Lynch's brilliant film Mulholland Drive, and is also akin to Thought Gang, the group Lynch formed with composer Angelo Badalamenti for the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me soundtrack. Not surprisingly, Blue Bob mixes atmospheric, vaguely noir-ish soundscapes with blankly surreal lyrics, creating the musical equivalent of one of Lynch's movies. While he's an inspired director and often a talented musician -- the songs he wrote for Julee Cruise's work on the soundtracks for Blue Velvet and the Twin Peaks TV series and movie, and her own album Floating into the Night, are unsurpassed in their twisted dreaminess -- Blue Bob isn't as consistently successful as some of his other musical endeavors. Most of the pieces here aren't quite as evocative as Lynch and Neff's soundtrack work,
but aren't immediate enough to work as rock songs or challenging enough to count as experimental rock or avant-garde compositions; on relatively poppy tracks like the Tom Waits-goes-surf "Rollin' Down," or sprawling instrumentals like "Blue Horse," Lynch and Neff tend to establish a groove and stay in it throughout the length of the track, which is often considerable. That's not to say, however, that Blue Bob doesn't offer quite a few interesting moments. The album opener, "9-1-1," is one of the cheesiest yet weirdest songs about a girl that you're likely to hear ("She's a monster/Call 9-1-1"); likewise, the literally industrial "I Cannot Do That" and "Pink Western Range," which feature "machine percussion" courtesy of Lynch and Neff, mix the banal and the bizarre in a way that possibly only Lynch fans could truly appreciate. Several of the tracks, such as the strangely comedic "Thank You, Judge!," which suggests what a show tune written by Eugène Ionesco might sound like, and "Bad Night," a sketch of a hold-up gone wrong, feel like scenes from movies or plays that were forced to be songs instead. However, the mixed nature of Blue Bob's songwriting isn't as frustrating as the overdependence on John Neff's somewhat limited vocal skills. His raspy, sardonic voice adds an edge to some of the tracks but wears out its welcome relatively quickly, particularly on the eight-minute "Mountains Falling," which appeared on the Mulholland Drive soundtrack as an instrumental and worked better that way. Dark, disjointed, unpredictable and highly unique, Blue Bob is certainly of a piece with the rest of Lynch's visual, film, and audio works; while it may not necessarily be among his best, it is an artifact that some of his most devoted fans will appreciate hearing.