Pop Levi

The Return to Form Black Magick Party

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Mika's Life in Cartoon Motion garnered much more attention, but Pop Levi's Return to Form Black Magick Party may well be 2007's most authentically cracked homage to '70s glam rock and boogie. With his full-length solo debut, Levi -- who splits most of his time between playing bass for Ladytron and being one-third of the unclassifiable Liverpudlian experimental rock trio Super Numeri -- has created an album-length homage to T. Rex that has the unfortunate side effect of being slightly too true to the original. With a couple of arguable exceptions (most notably The Slider and Electric Warrior), Marc Bolan was basically incapable of writing a consistently solid album's worth of material at a time, with the result that T. Rex albums varied wildly in quality from shiny and knife-sharp pop songcraft to deadly dull, repetitive blooze jams. Similarly, Return to Form Black Magick Party veers from brash, gimmicky gems like the singles "Pick-Me-Up Uppercut" (which makes an unexpected bend into a Raspberries-like power pop bridge from the stomping Sweet-style refrain) and "Blue Honey" to tiresome "heavy" rock workouts like "Mournin' Light" and "(A Style Called) Crying Chic." Some of the stylistic experiments work, such as the acoustic blues "Skip Ghetto," which sounds like Pink Floyd's David Gilmour sitting in on an outtake from John Lennon's Mind Games, or the trippy tape-loop psychedelia and demented chanting of "See My Lord." But overall, Pop Levi is at his best when he's at his most Bolan-like, as on "Sugar Assault Me Now" and "Dollar Bill Rock."

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