Returning to action after a ten-year delay in recording -- a decade when he was not inactive, devoting a large portion of time to his Live 8 charity -- Bob Geldof presented How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell, a transparently ironic title for a collection of tunes not intended to sell themselves or anything. Apart from the bluesoid skronk of "Blow Fish" -- a blast of misdirection placed toward the front -- there isn’t much here that could be seen as immediate, the kind of song that populates the pop charts. Even when the tempo percolates a bit -- the sleekly glassy “Silly Pretty Thing” -- nothing gets heated and much of the album is ruminative in a way that leans heavily on Dylan and Costello. Despite these echoes, the album is quite clearly Geldof’s creation, a tastefully cynical confessional from a man who is a mainstay at the Q Awards for a reason -- namely the kind of protest and introspection that’s so tasteful it can slip underneath the radar as mere mood music, even when it’s designed to get under the skin as it was here.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine