My girlfriend loves obnoxious boys. Adam Carolla, Conan O’Brien, Chris Matthews, Chris Rock and me. I don’t know how to help her (although we agree that the noun form of `obnoxious’ should be `obnoxion’). She may get over it in time but I hope not. Anyway, I haven’t played her the Pop Levi record and I’m not gonna. She might leave me.
In a way, Never Never Love, recorded exclusively in Hollywood, is like everything that’s ultra-whack about the L.A. music scene. In another way it’s just ultra-whack. I swear to God the first track is called “Wannamama.” The first things you hear are big dumb furiously-flailing hi-hatted drums and a juiced falsetto–or as Andrew W.K. would call it, breakfast (Andrew W.K. being one of the most meretriciously amusing rock singers of the millennium and a rather obvious fellow of Levi’s. I can’t prove they’ve actually met). “Wannamama” boasts (literally) enough larky backing vox to make Damn Yankees shit in their sleep and you could totally fool your girlfriend’s mom (since I already brought up the one) into thinking it’s a period piece.
As far as title tracks go, “Never Never Love” is admittedly killer–its rather redundant “never never love love love/ all the time” hook notwithstanding. Levi is a rather mischievous musician and “Never Never Love” is the most specific evidence to that. Not even “Dita Dimone” touches it, and that’s a song co-starring a car (a Mustang sure, but a 98???) If there’s ever a Dewey Cox-style fake biopic of Justin Timberlake, “Dita Dimone” is on the damn soundtrack.
It seems to me that Levi, much like Sam Sparro, really likes genre but would rather wear it like a funny hat. The fake e-flourishes of “Dita Damone” and the title track’s chop-socky percussion attest to at least a wandering electro fetish. He’s also got a serious jones for contemporary R&B; on “Mai’s Space” both the nonsensical backup vocal and a prominent guitar part mimic perfectly Beyonce’s “to the left, to the left.” Unlike Sparro, Levi isn’t so over the top that you turn away altogether. Okay, it almost is, but Levi at least has big oodles of gibberish-like fun, oodles that totally matriculate into the material. There’s no device too sacred it can’t be monkeyed with around the margins; in that respect Levi’s like a pop musician’s answer to the most minute stand-up comic. Even “Fountain Of Lies,” the album’s moody closer, is so near trembling parody that it’s impossible to know for sure. Although “Fountain Of Lies” is kind of wrenchingly pretty, so who cares. Lester Bangs, whom every rock journalist loves to praise and no rock journalist ever bothers to rip off, often wrote like he was talking himself into liking something before your eyes. More often than not it worked for both him and the reader. If this piece doesn’t exactly rip off the late Lester, I like this record better now than I did when I started. Which is sometimes the case with obnoxious boys and sometimes not.
Mika – Life In Cartoon Motion
Andrew W.K. – I Get Wet
Sam Sparro – Sam Sparro