Smart, sophisticated, and timelessly stylish, Steve McQueen
(titled Two Wheels Good
in the U.S. after threats of a lawsuit from the actor's estate) is a minor classic, a shimmering jazz-pop masterpiece sparked by Paddy McAloon
's witty and inventive songwriting. McAloon
is a wickedly cavalier composer, his songs exploring human weaknesses like regret ("Bonny"), lust ("Appetite"), and infidelity ("Horsin' Around") with cynical insight and sarcastic flair; he's also remarkably adaptable, easily switching gears from the faux country of "Faron Young" to the stately pop grace of "Moving the River." At times, perhaps, his pretensions get the better of him (as on "Desire As"), while at other times his lyrics are perhaps too trenchant for their own good; at those moments, however, what keeps Steve McQueen
afloat is Thomas Dolby
's lush production, which makes even the loftiest and most biting moments as easily palatable as the airiest adult contemporary confection.