Being a power pop artist doesn’t have much commercial currency these days, but that hasn’t stopped Bleu from releasing a string of solid, hook-laden albums. Four is his first collection of new material in years -- A Watched Pot, although released in 2009, was recorded half-a-decade earlier -- and it takes its cues from 1970s AM radio pop, American trad rock, and the same singer/songwriter tradition championed by contemporary popsters like Butch Walker. With help from a rotating cast of musicians (including the Section Quartet and former L.E.O. bandmate Roger Joseph Manning, Jr.), Bleu cycles through pop tunes like he’s competing in the Tour de France, unveiling hook after hook with nary a gap in energy. Even the ballads, from the falsetto-laden "How Blue" to the Van Morrison-styled “In Love with My Lover," have enough sugared melody to maintain the pace. The album is irreverent, too, featuring one of Bleu's best vocal performances during “When the Shit Hits the Fan” (sample lyric: “You know, there’s a putrid wind about to blow”) and making room for everything from funk horns to girl group gospel harmonies on the zippy “Dead in the Mornin’.” In some alternate universe, Bleu would be topping the charts alongside Rooney, Butch Walker, and other torchbearers of classic pop/rock. In this world, though, he’s relegated to power pop cult royalty, and Four extends his reign a little bit longer.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey