Pop Evil, ‘UP’ – Album Review
Michigan’s Pop Evil have been around longer than many people realize. Their breakthrough 2011 album War of Angels marked a decade since their formation, and they have paid their dues and steadily built a following over the years.
Their previous album, 2013‘s Onyx, was their most successful so far and included three No. 1 rock singles (“Trenches,” “Deal With the Devil” and “Torn To Pieces”).
For their latest album, UP, instead of following the same formula as their last two records, Pop Evil decided to work with a different producer. Adam Kasper has worked with everyone from Nirvana to Queens of the Stone Age to Soundgarden.
Pop Evil pick up right where they left off with the opener “Footsteps.” They also released it as the record’s first single and it has already topped the Mainstream Rock singles chart. Leigh Kakaty delivers the vocals with a little swagger and a lot of melody.
He brings a lot of different vocal styles to the table throughout the album. From edgy singing to sing-song vocals to crooning, Kakaty adds a lot of color and texture with that vocal variety.
Many of the songs on UP are tailor-made for live shows with groovy guitars, soaring solos and melodies crowds will be singing with their fists raised in the air. “Take It All” and “Vendetta” are in that vein.
Recording the album in Seattle and working with Kasper has influenced the sound of some of the tracks, which bring a definite ‘90s grunge vibe. “In Disarray” has an Alice in Chains feel, and “Ghost of Muskegon” also mixes that era with modern touches.
The guitar work of Nick Fuelling and Dave Grahs is spot on. From acoustic moments in tracks like “If Only For Now,” a ballad with hit written all over it, to beefy riffs on heavier songs, they deliver the goods. Another song that stands out among the other tracks is the memorable “Ways To Get High.”
UP is Pop Evil’s most ambitious album so far. It has that mainstream appeal while allowing them to push their musical boundaries a bit. It’s a satisfying album which sports a title that reflects the band’s current career trajectory.