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Mike Levy | Fireflies (Parasol/Bus Stop)
Anyone left feeling short-changed having waited five years for ex-Sneetches frontman Levy to deliver this 33 minute solo debut can go hunt down some Grateful Dead box-set. Sometimes brevity is beautiful and Fireflies stands as Exhibit A to illustrate this case. Handling the majority of instrumentation himself (including, uh, 'Happy Apples'), aided and abetted by accomplices Matt Carges (drums, another Sneetch), David Immergluck (additional guitars) and Magnetic Records alumni Jonathan Segal, Sheila Schat and Allison Faith Levy adding strings and backing vocals, Levy's songs are played, arranged and sung with nary a slip of judgement. Predominantly piano-led, it's easy to categorise Levy with contemporary ivory-tinkler Ben Folds who displays a similar gift for penning classic pop, but whereas Folds found his niche in a clever-wordplay/indie-cred overlap, Levy's knack is for irony-free lyrics and a seventies McCartney/Nilsson aesthetic. In much the same way that Todd Fletcher of June and The Exit Wounds taps into the Brian Wilson blueprint but adds elements of jazz, Fireflies achieves its author's ambition of "a soulful vibe" without losing sight of what it ultimately is, a pop record. And a very good one.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001