After 2013’s Onyx took the world by storm and brought Pop Evil to the international stage, there’s a lot of pressure on the Michigan hard rock brigade to succeed – or even just live up to – their previous oeuvre with new longplay Up. Looking to pull away from the confines of a rock band forced to play things safe, Up shows a more exhilarated and experimental side to the band, but to varying levels of success.
At its core, Up is an unabashed array of various tweaks and touches on radio-friendly rock ‘n’ roll. The record is washed over with a shiny glaze of faux rebellion and there are some tasty nuggets of abrasiveness here and there, but it’s the stupidly catchy beats and earworm-ish choruses that really pull you in, those crumbly hooks that you know you just wanna tap your toes along to. Case in point: Footsteps, the opening track and lead single from the LP. There’s a reason that song is already one of Pop Evil’s most successful, and it’s not just that their label probably bribed radio stations to play it on repeat.
While there are no drastic twists or turns through genre on Up, the record’s variety is something to be savoured. Amongst high-octane arena jams like Core and Take It All lies an intoxicating waft of fanaticism in If Only For Now, and a gritty pledge for risen horns in Vendetta. Not all is golden, though. Dead In The Water and Til Kingdom Come are two overlong wastes of space, and there’s no reason why ‘…’ even needs to be a part of the LP.
At the end of the line, Up has its hits and its misses, but the record succeeds veraciously in its pursuit to usher in a stronger, more daring Pop Evil. If this is what they sound like when their potential is left uncapped, it’s irrefutable that the band have a long career ahead of them.