Release Date: Nov 13, 2012
Record label: Counter Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Jonathan Levi is a man of multiple personas. Some might recognize him as the live (and occasional studio) bassist for Ladytron, while others might recall his days in instrumental weirdos Super Numeri. Yet his solo work under the name Pop Levi could not be further removed from Ladytron's austere electro, or from most strains of music as it has traditionally been classified over the decades, for that matter.
Pop Levi – Jonathan Levi, to the taxman – says his latest album was “recorded by a different version of me in another dimension”. It’s a dimension in which 30-something men from the Midlands can legitimately pretend to be Prince, curl out fat, glam rock riffs and sing in tight-trousered tones about motorbikes. It’s a dimension in which Babylon Zoo had a long and fulfilling career after ‘Spaceman’, and everyone applauded MGMT’s direction-change on ‘Congratulations’.
After spending some time in Ladytron and a handful of other bands, Pop Levi emerged back in 2004 as a glam rock version of Prince at his funkiest and eventually released his very entertaining debut, The Return to Form Black Magick Party. But since then, he's been in a bit of rut that even led to his third album never seeing the light of day. Third album proper Medicine does a little to reverse that trend, although not enough.
Pop Levi is, according to himself, not of this earth or at least not of this dimension. In the press release for the Liverpool multi-instrumentalist’s third LP, Medicine, he explains that his latest effort was “recorded by a different version of me in another dimension, then transmitted to this version of me during prolonged isolation tank sessions.” I’ll stop here for a moment to give you a chance roll your eyes – ready to continue? Okay. The album delves into glam rock, electro funk, and the self-labeled “future rock,” a genre label that means exactly nothing, and winds up sounding like that annoying kid at the party who hijacks the turntables to show off his severely lacking DJ skills.
As befitting someone as magnificently named as Pop Levi, Mr Levi is a star of truly singular quality. The retro pop Levi makes is framed through a distinctly beguiling and at times baffling prism. Levi has been something of a cult figure for over a decade now going back to the time he spent playing bass with Ladytron and his work with instrumental avant-garde group Super Numeri.
Pop Levi’s previous album, Never Never Love, found the L.A. transplant expanding the glammy T. Rex-inspired rock & roll of his debut album into something much more funky and Prince-inspired. Medicine cuts a lot of the stuttering beats and near-hip-hop swagger in favor of something much more focused with a classic rock strut.