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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pop Levi: "Never Never Love" Album Review

Last year saw Pop Levi release his solo debut album, The Return to Form Black Magick Party; a mediocre album with a few bright spots.  In my review of that release, I concluded, "It's high points are good enough to get even the most skeptical listener excited for what this artist has yet to do."  At the time, I was mostly just putting on my optimistic face and hoping that that statement would in fact prove true.  With the release of Levi's second record, Never Never Love, the artist has not just met expectations, but exceeded them wildly!  Never Never Love is a trip through pop rock and 80s synth pop that will excite and energize even the most skeptical listener.

Levi begins the album in a manner similar to his last, with the guitar-driven rock jam, "Wannamama."  With a similar style to last year's "Sugar Assault Me Now," fans of the artist should be able to ease into what he has in store for them.  The perplexing title track blends electronic afro-drums and brief guitar skitterings with Levi's trademark vocals; a high-pitched, feminine wail that is both endearing and off-putting.  The album doesn't hit its full stride until the third track, the synth-driven joy ride, "Dita Dimoné."  In it, Levi channels his girl problems into one of 2008's most infectious, danceable hits!  He sings, "Even though we're fighting every day/ so hard to take the girl away" over a chorus of funk guitars, bass synths, and hand claps; practically forcing the listener to move along to the beat.
"Semi Babe"  is a relatable piece of acoustic guitar pop about pining for a girl who may just be a little out of reach ("Not wholly mine/not over time").  The album's lightest track, it's a nice summer tune that somehow feels much more genuine than its other tracks.  "Fire on Your Feet" is another throwback to Levi's previous album, owing more to classic rock than 80s pop, and it just barely manages to escape from the repetition that caused that album to be such a forgettable effort.  "Mai's Space" is catchy as hell despite the fact that your gut reaction to Levi's pitch corrected vocals is to laugh or skip ahead.  Once you get over that urge (and the urge to say, "To the left, to the left..."), you'll find it to be one of Never Never Love's most memorable tracks.
In reality, most of Never Never Love is just as infectious.  Whether it's the soft rock of "You Don't Gotta Run," the brilliant use of telephone dialing on "Call the Operator," or the tear-jerking comedown track, "Fountain of Lies," this is an album that deserves to be poured over for weeks - months even!  Never Never Love is a masterpiece of pop rock in nearly every aspect; vocals, production, and songwriting included.  It is able to overcome its few, minor missteps (most of which are contained within "Everything & Finally") and succeed as one of 2008's most masterful works.  After his first album, Pop Levi left me skeptical, but hopeful.  This time around, he's more than proven himself.  Fans of all things pop will be thrilled to have a new juggernaut in the genre, and even those dedicated to Pop Levi should find this to be an exciting addition to his short, but thorough musical catalog.  For myself, Never Never Love easily ranks as one of the best pop albums of the last few years and one of the most satisfying albums of the 2008! 

Key Tracks:
1. "Dita Dimoné"
2. "Mai's Space"
3. "Oh God"
4. "Calling Me Down"
5. "Fountain of Lies"

8 out of 10 Stars

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