23 September 2013

Pop Levi - The Return To Form Black Magick Party

It's embarrassing sometimes, but you get one or two acts which are so unashamedly retro you have to ask the question of can they survive in the jungles of the pop world. It's a big bad world out there, and it's a tough challenge to be writing tunes with your heroes of the late 1960s/early 1970s in mind, but there's one act that stands out and has a point to prove that it can be cool to delve into the archives and turn up with some tracks that wouldn't look out of place in a Byrds or The Bonzo Dog Doh Dah Band album.

Pop Levi. Now there's a name you don't come across in the charts everyday and with that moniker, it's never going to frighten seven types of crap out of The Wanted or Little Mix. Birmingham raised Jonathan Levi is basically a multi-instrumentalist, music producer and has worked with several other acts like Ladytron and Super Numeri, all plying their trade in electronica, synthpop and shoegazing. Like the other bloggists here on ATTIWLTMOWOS, I do occasionally like listening to a piece of cleverly crafted pop, so hopefully Pop Levi has one or two little quirky snippets up his sleeve.

Is there a danger that PL has wandered into the same trap as Oasis and used too much sampling from 30 year old songs? This is his full debut album The Return To Form Black Magick Party released in 2007. And as you would expect, it's impossible not to compare this record to with his peers. Certainly Sugar Assault Me Now is a pacey rock n' roll number where Levi runs through an acid trip and there's further evidence of drugs referencing in the following track Blue Honey. It's a colloquial term for mixing a couple of hallucinogenics together giving the concoction a blue colour, and in (A Style Called) Crying Chic, there's heavy use of the spinet popularised in the late 1960s although the lyrics are a bit bland and repetitive.


Pick-me-up Uppercut I still think at present is a thoroughly modern hit-and-miss. It's clearly borrowed the title from a Foundations single in a simple three chorded song but then we are subjected to more chilled but psychedelic dreamings of Skip Ghetto. Listen to it and it puts my mind in Woodstock, weeks before the well renowned festival. Dollar Bill Rock runs off a rapid beat with T-Rex and Uriah Heep mixing it in a surreal tone with mellotron and accordion backups while Flirting includes some prominent xylophone work and tells a story of his girlfriend walking out on him after he rubs shoulders with other females on a night out. See My Lord is a two minute panic attack, it all sounds like PL was in a wasted state during the writing process before some order is restored with the skiffle sounding Hades Lady while the end track From The Day That You Were Born signs off with a dreamy piano ballad.

Pop Levi was a relatively late starter in the album business, he was 32 when he launched The Return To Form, but his previous works and experiences show in his production. There's a plethora of instrumentation on offer on this but as I suggested earlier it sounds very retrospective at times. Thankfully, it's very listenable, it feels beautifully crafted and I do enjoy enjoying hearing one or two riffs competing with the bleeps, strings and percussion combo etc that do more than enough to keep the attention of a keen ear.

8 out of ten. Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.

Listen to the album here on Deezer
Buy the album here on Amazon
Pop Levi's Official Website on this link

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