You probably know Jen Pop (Jen Razavi) from melodic punk rockers The Bombpops. One of my editors (Mark) is a big fan, so his instruction to me was to have this review out today! The album was released today, April 26th, on all major platforms and on vinyl directly from Jen’s website. None of the usual “when you can” on this one from my editor! When we spoke to Jen last year (I have linked the feature below), we were discussing, among other things, what success means in music. In her solo work, I feel Jen is exploring other facets of who she is as a performer while still being committed to the Bombpops (they were touring Japan recently). I would say enjoying being who she is and making the music she is satisfied with is success itself. Surviving in this business as a woman fronting a punk band is also a success. It is not naturally an album for punk fans; I wouldn’t be playing a punk album and then “East Side of Eden” immediately after, too great a gear change. I would play a Nina Simone album and then this one. As it is, I am quietly sitting with my cat, making notes on the album as I go along. A comfortable sofa, a cat and a nice cup of tea! And the album – it’s polished, multi layered and well constructed as a body of work.

Here is my review.

10 songs. 34 minutes.

“Saw in Half”: the magician’s assistant and the girl you saw in half. It’s a reflective and sad song, with a sweet melody providing the chorus. 

When she spoke to us around the time of the single release, Jen said, “Historically, the magic trick of sawing a girl in half is performed by a male magician sawing his lovely female assistant in half. The magician is perceived as a grand showman; he wows the audience with his sleight of hand. But the trick was actually made possible and performed by the assistant. The male magician receives all the credit and adoration for the female assistant’s work. However, it’s what she signed up for. She does it night after night; she shows up to be sawed in half, and the lyric is a metaphor for being in a toxic relationship. Similar to the illusion of the trick, there is often excitement in these relationships, and we sometimes choose to stay in them. There is a lot I want to tie in there.”

As an album opener, it positions the album. It’s a bit sad with a touch of sweetness.

“Never Really Wanted” touches on the relationship that goes wrong, but the other person doesn’t want you to leave, even when they don’t want to be with you. This one is a faster, rockier track with a rolling drum sound providing a strong base to the track. This is a track with which Bombpop fans would be more familiar; it zips along with a finger raised.

“High Noon” sees Jen in the headlights as she sings of cowboys and passions for crime (note the play on words, lol). The coyote, who plays with its kill, returns to metaphors of relationships, and Jen is clearly exploring emotions and histories in this album.

“Can’t Go Back:” has Jen feeling she can’t go back this time. It moves the rock sound up again with those expansive drum and bass sounds. If you listen to The Bombpops, their punk is always musically upbeat and catchy, but the lyrics underneath often explore much darker themes. Jen seems to be in that territory in her solo work. If you watch the Bombpops videos, they are full of little jokes. Watch “Zero Remorse,” where Jen comes out of the sea like a Bond girl and her victim is reading the book ‘Death in Venice’ by Thomas Mann. The album plays with the Steinbeck title “East of Eden,” the most brutal of his books, where attempted abortions and anger run through the plot. Jen lyrically weaves thoughts into her music using metaphors and allusions.

“When It Got Real” uses a piano and vocal sound, and the vocals from Jen appear somehow deeper. I know she has been doing acoustic shows, including here in the UK, recently. I would imagine this one would be in the set. It’s highly personal, a storytelling narrative with that sweetness still within the chorus.

“Don’t Get Me Started.” Retains that angst in the lyrics. This is a rock ballad in feel. I liked the guitar sound and the general sense of the song, but it was probably not one that grabbed me.

“Bender,” on the other hand, I immediately liked. It has this great, lighter melody that kind of contrasts with the rest of the album. This one would go down well on the radio and is almost Bangles-like in feel. There are all those little lyrical teases: “Love Me Tender,” “Heaven and Hell,” and so on. I really liked this; it was probably my favourite on the album. It went straight to my playlist; I will be playing this a few times.


“Sad Songs in June” is slower, as befits the title. It is another one that I bet sounds great live. A simple enough melody with the story overlay. It works as an album track.

“House of Mirrors” turns up the guitars and the volume. A track that shows Jen can still kick with those sneakers (or high heels), and there is a great riff driving the track. She is on home territory of old here and shows she can still put her faith in a loud guitar.

“East Side of Eden” closes the album with a haunting, throbbing guitar and some rather lovely vocals. I liked this a lot too; it is both simple and effective. 

Overall, this is a very strong debut album from a punk star who is finding her way musically in other directions. Jen is a very capable singer-songwriter with a fine ear for melody. The songs are introspective lyrically, finely blended together as a whole, and deserve to be listened to if you enjoy songs that really do have something to say and want to be heard. For me, the acid test of an album is whether I want to hear it again and whether I will be playing it in six months. I’m happy to say with this one that I will.

Standout tracks: “Saw in Half,” “Bender,” and “East Side of Eden.”

And we hope you liked the review, dear reader! If you did, please check out the other pages of the magazine; we have many great features, merchandise, editorials and even poetry! We work hard for you, and if you want to show some appreciation and support what we do, then do use the Support Us link below! Always appreciated.

Artist Website

Stream the album from here

By Stevie Ritson

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