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Cuir Bleu and My Second Review

I wrote a review of a band called Cuir Bleu back in September. Don't get me wrong; I'm all about independent bands and artists making good. My problem was that I really didn't like what I heard on their first offering, Slip Away. I was blunt. I was snide. My review never got any comments, so I put it out of my head. Then I was caught. Cuir Bleu's lead singer pixie_bleu found my review and challenged me to a re-, um, a re-review.

She sent me their next offering, a full length album called Sex Toy. It arrived today in a tidy little package, warmed by the sun and marked with big red letters reading "Fragile". I literally heard the postman drop it in the box; I unpacked it and stuck it into the CD player. I hit play, grabbed the enclosed lyrics, and settled in. Two listens-through later, I'm ready to give you my thoughts.


"Sex Toy" the album is built around topics of BDSM and eroticism. It's interesting listening. The news is good, bad, and middlin'. I'll give it to you in that order:

The good:

I see marked improvement in the quality of Cuir Bleu's music. The music ripples more, it's less ear-stingingly cliche, and some of the ideas develop into niggling little ear worms. Much of the music here is hummable and memorable. I dig that. Plus, the title piece, "Sex Toy", is a sassy anthem that if listened to in a campy, flamboyant spirit, makes for a lot of fun.

There's another song on this disc that caught my attention. You know how some songs have the "it" quality, and you can't tell why, exactly, they work as well as they do? "Pleasure and Pain" is one such song. The other songs on this album claim to be sexy. This one really is spine-tinglingly erotic. pixie_bleu adopts a hissy, breathy tone for this that rasps along the nerves in just the right way. Of all the songs on this disc, "Pleasure and Pain" rings the most true.

The world needs more sassy sex positive music that isn't fixated on gender, and it's great to see Cuir Bleu contributing to that.

The bad:

I talked to Dr. Sweetheart and we are in agreement: pixie_bleu is a smoldering little morsel of hotness and go get 'em attitude but the lady suffers from intonation issues. She either hovers under the pitch or reaches right over it. Her voice is frequently processed and filtered in this album, which smooths out some of the flaws, but she's still recognizably pitchy.

While the quality of the music as a whole has improved, it's lacking in finesse and dynamics. Where are the highs, the lows, the changes in feel, the subtle rhythmic surprises and the ecstatic thrills? I'd like to see them reaching for less superficial, first-idea-on-the-brain-storming-list stuff. If their lyrics grabbed at pulsing, universal truths about eroticism and if their rhythms and instruments were more thoughtful, subtle, and expressive they'd have a lot to offer.

The middlin':

Cuir Bleu knows exactly who their market audience is and they know exactly how to brand themselves - which is awesome. As it stands now, their material needs work; it's sophomoric in both words and music. I get the sense, though, that they work really hard to give what they've got. I applaud that. Building a band is an act of intense devotion. Despite my problems with their product, I have a great deal of faith in Cuir Bleu itself. I fully expect them to keep working, keep producing music, and to keep growing as artists. I look forward to seeing what they do next.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
I was hopeful that you'd love the new album.

Not that I have anything to gain/lose here - I just like to root for the underdog.

Jul. 27th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you the "re-review" and the offer to do more in the future. I appreciate the time you've taken to give it a real listen and to voice an honest opinion. An interesting note on "Pleasure and Pain"...

This was a song that I added in at the last minute, when the album was already in Mastering. It was about one in the morning, and Kalib, Makana and I were going over new instrumental ideas. I heard this track, got excited about it, asked them to loop it for me and put down scratch vocals. It felt different than any other piece I've done... more raw and more personal than I usually get (barring, perhaps, "Brass Pole"). In some ways it felt unfinished to me, since it had far less work done on it... but I think that may also be some of its charm. So... P&P became a bit of a pet project for me, and I'm glad you like it.

Out of curiosity (and dare I ask?)... what was your least favorite piece on this CD?
May. 21st, 2008 01:00 pm (UTC)
Cuir Bleu's #2
I am a fan of improving anything with potential. I just started looking over Cuir Bleu and I am curious to see and hear more. Thanks Betty!

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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