Pop Levi - Medicine

There is an innate strangeness at the heart of everything; it’s impossible to grasp who the real Pop Levi is.

Label: Ninja Tune

Rating: 6

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. This cult, rather niche status has been enhanced even further with the release of two well-received yet commercially unappreciated solo albums. You get the distinct feeling that Levi’s third album ‘Medicine’ may not be a decisive breakthrough but it is certainly not for the want of trying. There are innumerable hooks bursting out every orifice of this album.

Perhaps the best indication of Levi’s idiosyncratic persona is his own description of the recording process for the album in the accompanying press release. Levi states that the album was, “recorded by a different version of me in another dimension, then transmitted to this version of me during prolonged isolation tank sessions.” Not words that you could possibly imagine Olly Murs, or, indeed, any other pop star on the planet uttering. The end result is rather less fanciful but no less enjoyable.

Lead single ‘Strawberry Shake’ offers a fine example of ‘Medicine’s charms. It is a barmy piece of glam rock future funk full of endearing chutzpah, like a 21st Century Marc Bolan. ‘Motorcycle 666’ is even better, riding in on a super addictive dirty guitar riff and boring its way directly into your skull.

Despite its many thrills, there is more than one occasion on the album where you wonder if it is all just one elaborate joke. Rock clichés abound around a general retro vibe, but there is an innate strangeness at the heart of everything; it’s impossible to grasp who the real Pop Levi is. The lovely languid lilt of ‘Bye-Byes’ is probably the most soulful and heartfelt moment and is a clear highlight.

‘Medicine’ is an album that baffles just as much as it thrills. An apt description for Pop Levi himself who remains a weird and wonderful presence on the margins.