Ninja Tune undoubtedly has high expectations for Liverpool-born, L.A.-based Pop Levi on his sophomore album. After all, they were so impressed by him that they opened up a new label, Counter Records, solely to release his debut, Return to Form Black Magick Party. In just a year since that release, the label must feel vindicated. The former Ladytron bassist has moved on from the garage glam of his debut, taking on a neo-Prince persona to produce a sexed-up, genre-defying album studded with many a staggering, sure-fire single. The title track uses stutter-stop beats and an irrepressible clap-along refrain to birth a futuristic, glammed-up Wham! hit. Just as impressive is the daftly catchy, vocoder-huffing cross-dresser "Mai’s Space.” And when you think you’ve got Levi pegged, he slips in a completely straight-faced ballad like "You Don’t Gotta Run” with a melody that would surely break any proud Bolan-ite’s heart. Never Never Love may be a tad side A-heavy but be prepared nonetheless for a lovely, warm, gooey feeling in the pit of your stomach, and perhaps your pants.
Did you have an idea of what you wanted the songs to sound like when you started recording them?
Definitely, yes. I wanted it all to sound like Japanese toys, like super-modern toys falling in and out of love with each other. Kind of automatic, artificial soul pop. I wanted it to have a marked difference from the first record.
Could you describe what led you down the path towards this Tamagotchi pop/"robots falling in love” thing?
I don’t think there was one particular moment. In the beginning it was an idea that I couldn’t put into words. It was a result of music I was listening to at the time, and also not a result of that. I didn’t take a lot of influence from other music directly, necessarily. I was listening to a lot of Missy Elliott and a lot of Timbaland production, and I love it, man. I think sort of the best futuristic production sounds are in R&B, which almost sounds like its got a "common” thing attached to it, doesn’t it? But I think it’s rather special. I wanted to take that approach to making sound — to make what I would consider a more soulful, amore, black music-oriented record. (Counter)