It has been three long years since Pop Evil, one of Michigan’s best exports since the Motor City Madman Ted Nugent, released their last album. With hits like “Hero” dating back to their first album Lipstick on the Mirror back in 2008, Pop Evil has been a consistent force in the world of rock music. They have consistently delivered the goods with every album that they’ve released, and along the way have garnered many chart-topping singles as well. Pop Evil finally have emerged from the studio and kicked the covers off of their latest effort Versatile.
The Album kicks off with “Let The Chaos Reign”. What an absolute banger! The heavy-duty chunky power chord laden work by guitarists Nick Fueling and Dave Grahs is perfectly matched in intensity by drummer Hayley Cramer. Every time lead singer belts out “let the chaos reign” you know that when they perform this tune that is exactly what will happen in the mosh pit! “Set Me Free” is next up and is more of what Pop Evil is known for, a melodic hard driving rocker of a song with a lofty chorus.
The radio friendly single “Breathe Again” follows things up. With a perfect blend soaring choruses and a mix of clean and heavy guitar work this is the stuff that has brought Pop Evil tons of new fans. “Work”, another single off the album expands on their sound. With a bouncing rhythm to it, singer Leigh Kakaty alternates his delivery from a near angry rap to a softer sing song-y nursery rhyme. This is definitely new ground they are covering. With its status as one of the singles off the album it clearly works and shows that they are successfully pushing the envelope of what they can do.
“Human Nature” is a dark take on society. With catchy guitar hooks and the vocals delivered in a more relaxed style, this song is one of the hidden gems on this album. When “Worst In Me” starts you think that they are delivering a ballad. Just when you think they are going down that path Leigh Kakaty belts out a near primal scream and the song shifts into high gear. Bassist Matt DiRito and Haley Cramer combine to give this song a really fat and heavy sound that really adds to the punch of it.
While Pop Evil is known for delivering arena friendly punchy rock songs, “Same Blood” delivers a powerful message that everyone should take to heart, all wrapped up in a way that Pop Evil does best. The final track “The Fire Inside” is the perfect way to end the album. With many of the elements that have served them well from a catchy chorus and a solid dose of heavy guitar to some newer elements of electronica subtly and tastefully placed.
It’s easy for a band to fall into the trap of putting out album after album of similar material that keeps their core audience happy. But it’s the savvy and talented band that can keep their fan base happy and draw in new listeners by mixing things up by injecting new sounds and styles. Pop Evil has definitely pulled that off deftly with their latest release. Instead of eschewing what worked great on previous efforts, they have grown and expanded their sonic palette while still holding onto all that Pop Evil-y goodness. Indeed, Versatile lives up to its name and is a worthy inclusion into everyone’s collection.