Pop Levi: Never Never Love
Counter Records

That the back cover splits Never Never Love's thirteen songs into two sections is telling: Pop Levi's eclectic pop collection harks back to the pre-CD era when artists thought of LPs in terms of twenty-minute “sides” and the song groupings thereon. Nick Lowe (Pure Pop For Now People in particular), The Rasberries, Prince, and T. Rex are some of the artists who spring to mind while Never Never Love kicks out its resplendent three-minute jams. It's no coincidence that those artists' peaks came in the ‘70s and '80s as Pop Levi's tunes are cut from similarly classic cloth.

The glammy guitar rocker “Wannamama” explodes from the speakers like T. Rex on ecstasy with pile-driving shuffle beats and mind-numbingly simple lyrics (“Ooo ooo / wannamama / wannamama”), a style Levi revisits in “Oh God (What Can I Do?)” whose lyrics are even more Bolanesque (“Baby, baby, baby, I'm a killer for you”). Guitar riffs stab a skeletal groove in the r&b-flavoured title song while a repeated title chant punctuates low-riding synth snarl in “Dita Dimoné.” The intensity lets up slightly in “Semi-Babe” where wistful longing pervades the ballad's acoustic guitar strums (“Whether right or wrong / She got thirty-seven numbers on the phone”); exemplifying the set's stylistic range, Pop Levi later works a falsetto vocal over funk rumble in the Prince-styled “Everything & Finally.” Other bases covered include party rock (“Fire On Your Feet”), ‘70s-styled folk-pop ( “Love You Straight”), vocodered pop-funk ( “Mai's Space”), piano ballads ( “Calling Me Down”), and ‘80s synth-pop (“Fountain of Lies”). Levi's voice is as sugary sweet as the songs themselves though it's sometimes so bright it verges on a chipmunk-like chirp. Loud, flamboyant, and brash, the forty-four-minute collection showcases the Ladytron bassist-for-hire's (on the band's 2003-4 World Tour and Witching Hour) deft command of the pop lexicon and a seemingly effortless ability to churn out one killer hook after another.

August 2008