Album Review: Pop Evil – Up

Driven by a conviction known only to the purveyors of hard rock, Pop Evil have demonstrated that the only way is ‘Up’.

The Michigan quintet take commercial success in their stride, joining the ranks of bands passionately reviving traditional confident rock ‘n’ roll infused with present day tricksy atmospherics. ‘Up’ is a lengthy statement of intent – with 15 tracks of petrous energy, its content should probably have been split into two separate releases.

The surreal opening of ‘Footsteps’ pushes straight into a driven rock beat, holding sincere conviction behind every word that leaves vocalist Leigh Kakaty‘s lips. “Look what you’ve done to me,” calls out the defiant ‘Core’ beyond an impressive solo, contrasting with the trudging ‘In Disarray’ with its grungy melody and sassy monotone vocals.

The groove of ‘Take It All’ may be somewhat repetitive, but it’s catchy as hell, drawing an effortless contrast with the subtle reflection of ‘If Only For Now’, while the scene-setting filler of ‘…’ showcases Nick Fuelling’s intricate fretwork in its most natural state.

‘Ways To Get High’ begins on a lulling tone before a key change into an energised high-pitched dream state, calling comparison with the Foo Fighters, further emphasised by ‘Dead In The Water’, an equally melodic and ethereal reflection upon a betrayal.

“She said ‘come over to the dark side’,” recalls the brash anthemic ‘Lux’, while the intricate opening notes of ‘Vendetta’ convey a forceful and defiant character, delivering a trudging riff alongside a reminder that “everything has to fade.”

The album highlights surface beyond the halfway mark, in the form of contemplative ‘Seattle Rain’ and gloomy ‘Til Kingdom Come’. While the former heralds a hopeful turn to the acoustic alongside Leigh’s appropriate vocal drawl, the disillusioned latter pours its heart and soul out on track.

“All the walls that I built start to cave in,” cries the helpless ‘Confessions’ beyond its strikingly techy infusion, offsetting the stomping menace of ‘Ghost Of Muskegon’ where stickman Joshua Marunde truly comes into his own. Closing appropriately on an acoustic rendition of lead single ‘Footsteps’, the haunting notes of Leigh’s vocals take centre stage, and rightly so.

While nothing particularly ground-breaking, ‘Up’ is a perfect soundtrack to a chilled afternoon. Ethereal and technical, passionate and distraught, Pop Evil have mastered the entire emotional spectrum amid gloriously rock-driven tones – it’s just a shame it took 15 tracks to get there.


‘UP’ by Pop Evil is released on 21st August on eOne Music.

Pop Evil links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)


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