Pop Levi – Medicine (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THREE albums in and Pop Levi has yet to get the global recognition his music so richly deserves. But Medicine could well be the album to change that and serves as a nice antidote to a lot of the manufactured pop-pap out there.
Bonkers insane yet classically sourced, this is – by Levi’s own admission – a collection of songs that rub his obsession with Prince up against his love for Bolan, throws in a little Paul McCartney, some early Stooges, a chunk of Lindsey Buckingham and even a dash of Peter Gabriel for a record that channels bubblegum pop through Satanic ritual and classic rock for some of the oddest, funniest and most cool cuts you’re likely to hear this side of The Heavy.
The bonkers side of Pop Levi is evident almost immediately, with the loopy Strawberry Shake setting things in motion with a wild collection of killer funk riffs, hand-clap beats, warped synths and retro vocals. It’s designed to offer an impossibly sweet good-time and it succeeds, despite coming over a little too heady and indulgent in some of its production elements (like Fatboy Slim dropping too much acid or something).
But Motorcycle 666 quickly puts any wayward tendencies back on track with a belter of a track… a Satanic offering that is as funky and sexy as they come. Think T-Rex mixed with Hendrix and you may be somewhere close.
Rock Solid is a full-on glam rock foot-stomper that really tips its hat to Bolan and company, while Police Sign heightens the coolness with more hip-swirling funk… if you’re not sweaty and breathless by this point, then you may need your pulse checking.
But if you think you’ve got the measure of things by that point, then Levi throws in a delightful mid-tempo offering in the form of Coming Down, an absolute gem of a psychedelia-laced track that chronicles RD Laing’s time at the Tavistock Institute. It’s one of the out and out album highlights.
Medicine then tips its hat to the ‘chemical induced split personality living inside of me”, and is suitably strung out and hazy (but in a good way), before Bye-Byes delivers the first of two blistering ballads. It’s a genuinely tender moment and one that completely disarms you.
The other, Records, isn’t quite a ballad but it does slow down the tempo from the norm again, emerging as a wonky electro-rock track of the highest calibre (complete with vocal help from the irrepressibly LA Bunny Holiday).
Elsewhere, Terrifying has a nicely strung-out blues-rock vibe that’s really lived in, in a classic Stooges kind of way, while Remember, Remember is a giddy foot-stomper that clearly exists to have some kinky fun (complete with brass-like moments).
Put together, Pop Levi’s Medicine is something worth writing your own prescription for. It’s a great remedy for some of the more bland material out there.
Download picks: Coming Down, Bye-Byes, Records, Motorcycle 666, Rock Solid