Pop Evil – Pop Evil
Wow, it has been 10 years since Pop Evil released their debut “Lipstick on the Mirror”. An album that took about two years to get to my ears and I have been a huge fan since that very first listen. It is sometimes a bit frustrating to find a band from another country as you get very little live interaction, in fact I have only managed to catch them at Download a few years back at an unearthly early slot. Hangover or not I was not going to miss them.
In those 10 years and with the fifth album now being released we should know what this band are all about but the one thing about Pop Evil and this album is that you cannot expect a paaint by the numbers approach and as much as I loved that debut this self titled release is a long way from it’s feel.
The classic rock feel that the band were brought up on has faded slightly with a more polished metal/industrial feel. The songs are still there, the beat has just taken a much heavier journey. This can be heard in opener “Waking Lions” and with that guitar crunch it would wake a deaf elephant. It has an “In This Moment” sound musically but the break down and chorus is so Pop Evil. We get the brilliant harmonies before the quicker/ more brutal vocals. Yes, track one has ticked the box for me.
“Colours Bleed” has the same sound but wrapped around Leigh Kakaty’s rapper style vocals. If you want a taste of this album check out the video for this song and take in its many twists and turns…an anthem if ever there was one.
As “Ex Machina” blasts at you there is a very different feel to the songs and that is down to new drummer “Hayley Cramer”. She is from these shores so I am hoping she throws down the gauntlet and says they are touring this album over here. I am sick of seeing 200 odd gigs a year on their social media pages and not even getting a sniff of stage sweat.
With “Art of War” the speed and brutality is strong, the rapping/spitting vocals are back like a modern RATM. This track is what tells me I need to let go of the old and embrace the new just like Hogmanay and do you know what? I can deal with that, this direction and sound sits well with me and the band.
Just as I am getting used to the sound it changes again to an almost electro pop track, it has a Nickelback catchiness, a sort of sister song to Shinedown’s “Bully” and we know how popular that was. I love a band that can come out of the blocks ten years later and shake up my perceptions.
As much as I am praising the new direction there is a little piece of me not willing to let go completely, you will always want something to hang onto and say this was who I fell in love with and although completely different “Nothing But Thieves” was the track for me. It starts like a trance track, the percussion is perfect, the sound bursting from the speakers on full volume is beautiful. The echo, the reverb all to die for and when the song kicks in its almost an Enigma track. I loved the scuzzy guitars, the vocals and when the song opens its wing it has the classic rock feel. You can tell a lot went into this song. If I had to make a guess this song probably took the biggest chunk out of the year they took to make the album and man is it worth it.
“A Crime to Remember” is up next and has a real laid back feel, almost indie. The piano mixing with a little R n B works so well. It may be slowed down but it lacks none of the power of the much heavier tracks.
“God’s Dam” is rock, pure and simple. Take your pick of classic bands of the genre and this track is up there with them. Another song that reflects their roots, those early days of jamming on acoustic guitars before this all became a business. This is a lazy assed, summer on a porch song.
With its chant along parts “ When We Were Young” was made for the stage…although in saying that I would not know what songs from this album to leave out live. It settles on that Shinedown vibe again and will make for a powerful stage song.
Ok, there had to be a downside and for me “Birds of Prey” is the weakest track. It comes out of the blocks like a limp wristed (not even sure I can say that in this day and age) 80s pop number. It does build and saves itself but personally one I never really got but maybe it is a grower.
Pop Evil have obviously heard the adage keep the best till last as “Rewind” is stunning. It is a rewind to the slower tracks that Pop Evil owned like a bitch. With the power turned down the emotions get a chance to pour out and I just fell in love with this track. They do the slow tracks so well.
10 years down the road and pop Evil are more relevant than ever. They have scrubbed the boards clean and came up with a completely diverse, heavy, soulful and brilliant album. I am getting fed up doing brilliant reviews for this band…in fact I am putting a stake in the ground, if this band do not tour the UK I am passing on every album in the future until the listen to me.
Review Ritchie Birnie
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