Pop Levi - The Return to Form Black Magick Party
With a name like Pop (real name Jonathan - middle name Pop), born in London, now residing in LA via Liverpool, how could this man not end up fronting a band?
Equal parts Jean Shrimpton and the Kinks, Pop Levi and his band certainly look the part, and his musical trajectory - the experimental three-piece Super Numeri, bass duties, a tour and some writing with electro-popsters Ladytron - is enough on its own to persuade many newcomers to start listening.
The first two tracks are also the first two singles (''Sugar Assault Me Now'' and last year's ''Blue Honey') and great openers. The deliberate sonic swagger of Marc Bolan is instantly apparent - moogs, dextrous guitars, hand claps, strings and tambourines underlay Levi's acid-fried vocals.
But it isn't supposed to be retro or manufactured and for the most part doesn't sound like it, these aren't formula pop songs, he's genuinely trying to craft original compositions that move in new directions but with a genuinely reverent nod to the hard partying genre-smashers of the past. ''Dollar Bill Rock'', for example, sounds like Bill Haley, with The Doors on keyboards.
If you like that idea, you'll probably like the album too.
The first six tracks represent the energy and motivation of the whole outfit in their best light, maintaining the right energy with differing emphasis. Later efforts contain all the mystical folk and glam party-pop cues, but in spite of consistently slick production they lack depth and sound like they're falling apart as they play.
Aside from these idiosyncrasies the album works well as a whole, but doesn't quite reach the heights of the artists that inspired and informed it. --Eamonn Stack
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