Review Summary: A lack of consistency in parts, brings the records overall experience down instead of Up.
Modern rock has proved to be a difficult genre to survive in over the years, with many bands lacking a distinctive sound to keep them afloat for a long period of time. Yet, sometimes if you work hard enough by releasing timely and consistent albums, you stand a chance in opposing this lack of genre defining diversity. This is where Pop Evil exists. Pop Evil hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan and their blue collar work ethic has seen them gradually rise through the ranks of modern rock. Pop Evil has charted favourably in the US with their past two albums War Of Angels and Onyx and are hoping that momentum will keep building for their fourth album; Up.
The first cut from Up is the lead single ‘Footsteps’, which immediately doesn’t sound like the Pop Evil fans know. Leigh Kakaty’s voice enters as distorted bass and computerized drum beats slowly construct a wall of sound around their main man, but never really goes anywhere. Sure, the song is catchy as hell, but it does slightly come across as a tepid mid-tempo rocker or Imagine Dragons B-Side. ‘Footsteps’ will draw hook listeners with its infectious nature and sing-along moments, but it’s not an effective opening track; something Pop Evil usually nails. The second track ‘Core’ is where the album should have begun. A huge meaty guitar riff grabs the listener by the head and rams it through the nearest wall, whilst Kakaty’s vocals soar over the heavy blend of melodic rock ‘n’ roll. A slow snake charming-esque guitar solo rolls through the bridge over some effective bass work, letting all the instruments do the talking. The following track ‘In Disarray’ is perhaps the strongest song the band has ever released. The track channels some old school Stone Temple Pilots vibes, whilst also adding their own fresh twist on the sound. ‘In Disarray’ incorporates some Scott Weiland inspired vocals over, thick sludgy bass and a wailing guitar solo, which results in a huge tick for the band.
From this point onwards Pop Evil continues to experiment with a number of sounds. ‘Take It All’ acts as a huge stadium filling sing-along rocker, whilst ‘Ghost Of Muskegon’ continues to pushes some of the opening tracks tones, just on a heavier and more effective basis. ‘If Only For Now’ showcases the bands slower side, which is well paced and less generic that past ballads such as ‘Monster You Made.’ ‘Lux’ has some incredibly catchy guitars and vocals but ultimately is nothing new and wouldn’t please anyone outside of the genre, whilst ‘Vendetta’ is so aggressive it puts a smile on your face. ‘Seattle Rain’ is solely an acoustic rocker that shows off just how good Kakaty’s vocals can be and how diverse they can be.
Overall, Pop Evil have released a surprisingly solid fourth album in Up. Of course the album isn’t perfect and has a number of missteps, including the biggest being the lead single ‘Footsteps.’ Up features a number of exceptional moments like ‘In Disarray’ and ‘Til Kingdom Come’, but also some instantly forgettable ones like ‘Ways To Get High’ and a bizarre thirty second interlude that is absolutely pointless. In saying this, fans will be pleased with this album, but critics can’t overlook the albums lack of consistency in parts, which brings the overall experience down instead of Up.