For a little while there pop music started to become repetitive and uninventive but recently some newcomers are trying to change the game. Ivy Levan is bringing you a fusion of pop music that she likes to call “Swamp-Hop”. The American songstress is one of pop’s underrated gems with a voice that will have you intrigued and wanting to hear more. Her debut album “No Good” is a versatile affair that combines big pop tracks with rock and soul influences and offers some big name collaborators.
Opening track “The Dame Says” introduces the different sound and her dark concept to listeners. She commands with her vocals and while the song isn’t one of her strongest on this release it still manages to standout. “You see I got my cake, and I fucking ate it too”. Pop jam “Biscuit” delivers an unforgettable hook that will have you wanting to drop it low and strut like no tomorrow with a strong horn arrangement paving a great beat. The lyrics are very playful and bit risqué making it the perfect lead single for this album. “I think you might of missed it, I think you got it twisted When I told you to kiss it, my biscuit, my biscuit”. One of the first collaborations comes from Thirty Seconds To Mars lead guitarist Tomo Milicevic who co-wrote and produced the title track. “No Good” is one of my favourites on this record, it continues with the horn arrangement and gives a more classical pop sound. “And that’s all that I ever wanna be. Your love, your love, makes me no good I’m just no good”. When I read Diplo’s name on the credits for “27 Club” I was expecting an EDM track with big drops that would undeniably make this the biggest song of the album. I was pleasantly surprised to find out this wasn’t the case. This dark track explores the 27 Club myth and how she wants to die leaving a legacy behind. “I’d rather burn out then spend my life waiting. I wanna go down, down in history. Everybody’s gonna know me when I die, So I don’t give a damn if I survive”. The mediocre “Like A Glove” sees a forgettable rap by the unknown Cadre but manages to grow on you with Levan’s Fergie-esq vocals that command your attention. Sting unexpectedly rounds out the collaborations with the strongest track on the album, “Killing You”. This dark rock ballad sees the two powerhouse vocalists harmonizing beautifully to give you an oddly touching track. “Cause no one’s ever gonna need somebody more than I need you and no one’s ever gonna hurt somebody more than I hurt you”.
“Best Damn Thing” offers another favourite with an infectiously pop hook that sees her vocal delivery being a bit reminiscent of Cher. “Hey, you wanna know ’bout what goes around comes around? You never did care then, you tell me why do you care now?”. It’s probably the most pop influenced song on the album but works perfectly well. She samples “It’s My Party” on the average “Champagne Taste” and along with “The Dame Says” and “Like A Glove” are the only three songs I skip when I listen to this record. Where she does succeed incredibly well is on the ballads. “Misery” and “Johnny Boy” give you strong vocals and well produced pop/soul ballads but it’s the haunting “It Ain’t Easy” that will leave you impressed. Recorded in one take this song embodies so much raw emotion and acts as the perfect album closer leaving you remembering that she is one of the few pop singers who can actually sing her ass off.
“No Good” is a fierce and quotable record that fuses pop, soul and rock together with some standout tracks leaving you impressed while a couple will have you reaching for the skip button. This is a decent debut album that will have people discovering a powerhouse vocalist and the new dame; Ivy Levan.