It's not often you get to use the word 'cat' about a fellow human being without feeling (a) anachronistic and (b) a bit of a twat. But then it's not every day you come across someone like Pop Levi . And Pop Levi is one strange cat. Born in London, with musical roots in Liverpool, a stint playing with Ladytron and Super Numeri and a home in Los Angeles, Pop Levi likes to describe what's good about pop music as "astral". His debut album, " The Return To Form Black Magick Party ", is, fittingly, worthy of the term. Although the most obvious precursor of his sound might be Mark Bolan, listen carefully and you'll hear touches of everyone from Jack White, Prince and Hendrix to Dylan, Lennon and Beefheart in there. But rather than being any kind of eyebrow-raised pastiche, this is what Pop describes as "channelling" - an album of such complete conviction, flair and energy (plus a lorryload of hooks) that it is utterly irresistible, a stack heel pushed right down on the accelerator.
From opening single, "Sugar Assault Me Now", "Return To Form..." picks you up and carries you along on a wave of jagged guitar riffs, rumbling drums, fuzzed up bass and Pop's unique voice. Before you know it, "Blue Honey" has kicked in and you're riding bareback over another monster groove. "(A Style Called) Crying Chic" is acid-fried folk blues, "Pick-Me-Up Uppercut" classic call-n-response bubblegum pop that somehow manages to reference the Undertones as well as the Shirelles. "Skip Ghetto" takes a more contemplative turn, the lyrics ostensibly about a girl, but actually a commentary on musical pigeon-holing. "Dollar Bill Rock" takes the tempo up again with a crazed blues skank. And so it goes on. "Flirting" is epic and affecting, "Mournin' Light" a monster of rock riffage, "See My Lord" nods to avant garde jazz, "Hades' Lady" to electrified Dylan. The album is rounded off by "From The Day That You Were Born", a lullaby for Pop's as-yet-unborn daughter, which builds to a truly beautiful string-fuelled coda.
In the process Pop seems to completely explode the already-tired consensus of rock music in the UK. Not for him the dour re-telling of reality. Pop Levi is not a reporter. He wants to re-make reality, and re-make it in his image. Call it astral projection if you like, but Pop Levi is going to be a star.