June 20, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it an A

Who’s the nerviest wimp in current pop music? No, not Clay Aiken. Try William McAuley III — a.k.a. BLEU — who on REDHEAD(Aware/Columbia) has created a concept album about a guy who whines to, rages at, and peeps on a woman who obviously dumped him for doing all that stuff. Embedded in lush melodies loamy with layered guitars and rich, soaring vocals that were multitracked in collaboration with Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, Redhead is a sustained meditation on romantic obsession. Doesn’t matter whether he’s running into his love object’s mother (”Somethin’s Gotta Give”) or sublimating his frustration with a rubber blow-up doll (the unlisted ”Dance Dance Baby Doll Dance”), Bleu is blue. ”What if I wasn’t wound so tight?” he muses miserably on ”Somebody Else.” Well, you might have got the girl, Bleu, but you probably wouldn’t have made this squirmily gorgeous album.

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