Hannah Golightly

Singles Reviews | Pop Levi – ‘Strawberry Shake’

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Pop Levi

By Hannah Golightly

I met Pop Levi one night in Liverpool through an old friend. We were all out watching some psychedelic band because my old friend was engaging in some sort of modern style psuedo relationship without labels with the bassist. Pop is one of those hyper-reality stars of real life. Too much to be real. And yet there he is, even after you’ve rubbed your eyes to check the validity of the view. We eyed each other up and danced a little. He had some moves. The man can dance. My boyfriend was on tour at the time and I was feeling neglected. At the end of the night Pop drove me home and propositioned me in the car to go back to his and share a bath. “You just want to fuck me,” I told him.

After that night I would see him out and we would flirt cruelly with each other. It was mean but it was sexual. When his band Pop Levi and the Emergencies played a gig, the whole indie popluation of Liverpool would turn up dressed up and cram themselves into any venue they graced. It was always exciting.

When Pop Levi released a throttled-up 60s-sounding Prince inspired record called ‘Blue Honey’, I liked to think it was about me because I had blue hair. My friend Lynsey used to say that “everyone liked to think Pop Levi fancied them” and she was probably right.

One day he left Liverpool in search of life in LA. That’s when his music started to change. Perhaps the 60s sound that he had been busy warping was inspired by Liverpool – a city where some are still walking around in a retro daydream ever since The Beatles stopped playing the Cavern. His music became more sundrenched and more Prince sounding on Pop’s scale of influences. The videos were always cool.

The last thing I listened to by him was under his other recording name Mosambique Courier. I must admit, I didn’t get it. I was gonna interview Pop about it to find out what it was all about. Seemed too minimalistic, erratic, sound-effect driven and not enough of the singing that makes Pop Levi records so great. The voice was always cool.

Time passed and we kept missing each other and the interview didn’t get done. In a way, I’m glad. Better leave Mosambique Courier to its target audience (not me).

So anyway, today, without ceremony or fanfare, Pop Levi released the video for his latest single ‘Strawberry Shake’. And it’s a return to form for old school fans like myself. Back are the hand clapping percussion hilights. Back is THAT voice. Back are those snake-hipped dance moves. Back are the sexy video girls. But more importantly, back is that growling bass and retro guitars mixed in with the retro-electro computerised moments. It’s all back and it sounds damn fine.

I don’t know if ‘Strawberry Shake’ is as good as previous singles such as ‘Blue Honey’, ‘From The Day That You Were Born’ or ‘Never Never Love’, or whether it’s just that the production is just more modern and flatter than before. But I would say that this latest material is a step back towards his stronger work. I think I had been missing the blues when he got involved with all those computers. I’m not much of a fan of Prince. To me, Prince is just OK. I’m not gonna go out and buy an album, but I might keep dancing if I’m on the dance floor when it comes on. I think with Pop Levi, I can enjoy the Prince influence when the guitars and bass are as sexy and blues laden. I reckon it’s the Soundgarden fan in me that relates to it so deeply. There’s a grove. A party in the dark.

As I type this now, I am listening to another new Pop Levi track on the MySpace player. It’s called ‘Medicine’ and it sounds even rougher and readier than the slightly two dimentional production sound going on on ‘Strawberry Shake’. Yeah, I think that’s the one I like more. But then, I always did prefer rock to pop. If all else fails, you can always put on your dancing shoes and step into the video.

‘Strawberry Shake’ is released 22 October 2012, most likely on itunes

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