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Pop Evil “Lipstick on the Mirror” (2008) December 17, 2008

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2008, Pop Evil.
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Written by Andrew

Most fans of good ole’ rock and roll would agree that pop is evil, thinking that Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Nelly Furtado, and more continue to corrupt our nation and serves to separate us from good music. While this may or may not have been the inspiration for the name of Michigan rock band Pop Evil, it almost certainly had some bearing on their musical style. Playing a no-bones-about-it style of hard rock since 2001, Pop Evil prepares to make their biggest statement with their newest release, Lipstick on the Mirror, which also serves as their first label-backed issue.

Pop Evil throws down the rock gauntlet quickly with a sharp guitar riff to break open “Hero” the album’s first track and single. The scream of vocalist Leigh Kakaty kicks off the hook-laden crowd-pleaser, and his rough vocals take you on a ride. “I won’t be your hero, everything I did was for you, everything you did was a lie,” are great emotional lyrics to drag the listener into a catchy album opener that doesn’t rely on overpowering cliche lyrics. This track is the perfect demonstration of what Pop Evil can do, and they stick to their guns throughout the album.

While Hero grasps you tightly with the opening licks, it won’t be the last time Pop Evil pulls that trick. Guitarists Dave Grahs and Tony Greve whip out furious guitar solos at every turn, and throw in plenty of fantastic hooks at the beginning of many of the tracks. “Another Romeo and Juliet” has a quick and exciting guitar solo to start the song, and “3 Seconds To Freedom” and “Jupiter In June” rely heavily on this thrashing to keep the songs interesting. The guitar playing is as good as many of the years best albums and proves Pop Evil’s ability to rock falls back onto the old standard of rock music.

Kakaty’s vocals are another highlight throughout much of Lipstick on the Mirror. The slowed down “Stepping Stone” shows off the edgy singing well as the focus is of course on the lyrics and voice. The instrumentals are rarely eventful on this song but hold up a nice ballad-esque feel around Kakaty’s voice. However, it’s worth noting that this one of the songs when his lack of range definitely shows. While Kakaty makes the most of the voice he’s been given to give his songs a hard edge, he stands as very mono-pitch for most of the album, and while it’s easy to disguise this on the bigger, solo-filled tracks, the stripped down “Stepping Stone “and “Hey Mister” are fairly boring from a vocal standpoint.

Pop Evil’s biggest issue is not Kakaty however, but a distinct lack of hooks throughout a good portion of this album. While “Breathe” and “3 Seconds To Freedom” will snag you and not let go for weeks, the majority of the album takes a good deal of listening to in order to get any kind of good feeling out of the experience. Songwriting is more at fault here than anything else, as it’s already been mentioned that the solos prove more than effective at doing their job. Many of the songs will eventually find their way into your iPod’s repeat cycle, such as the soaring “100 In a 55” or the vocally strong “One More Goodbye”.

There’s really not much more to say on the topic of Pop Evil. The guitar work is a great reason alone to bear witness to this up-and-coming band, and the edgy southern-style vocals will rock you like a hurricane without making you feel like you’re in the back of a van in the swamps of Alabama. The modern rock style infused with a little bit of southern kick helps Pop Evil in a lot of ways, and makes the album a little more memorable than most generic rock that comes down the tail pipes. Will Pop Evil make a best of collection any time soon? It’s unlikely, but that doesn’t mean that Lipstick on the Mirror isn’t an effort worth checking out.

The Point – Modern rock with a southern flair and a groupie bus full of fretwork help Pop Evil stand above the crowd a little bit, but the album lacks a good deal of catch, and the lyrics aren’t anything special.

7 out of 10

Download This – “3 Seconds To Freedom”

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