If you were to tell me around 4 years ago that the internet enigma Poppy would become an experimental alt/pop/hard rock/EDM/metal musical sensation in the near future, I would’ve laughed so damn hard at you.
Pity me and my ignorance.
In 2017 Poppy released her first LP Poppy.Computer (if you don’t count her strictly pop-oriented 2015 album under a different artist’s name) and in 2018 she released the harder side of her persona with her album Am I a Girl? Both albums unquestionably had songs I relished and some standout, in-your-face stylistic choices that intrigued me, but I wouldn’t say the albums consecutively won me over.
Fast-forward 1 year later. The end of a decade: 2019. Poppy releases an EP under the title Choke—a 5-track emphasis on her new, mature sound. Not only does the small collection have one of my favorite tracks of that entire year on it, Scary Mask (feat. FEVER 333)—a song with more tonal switch-ups than Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody or Radiohead’s Paranoid Android—but it furthermore reinvented Poppy’s devilishly ludicrous follower vs. satanist journey. The lyrics seemed more constructive and fascinating within the controversial topic, the instrumentals became a lot more inventive than obvious, and Poppy’s light-toned, adorable vocals managed to fit into the metal scene a little more appropriately.
Now, fast-forward to January 2020. Only a little less than a year later, Poppy has a whole new album out called I Disagree. It’s an album that maturely reconstructs religious conversation (instead of simply repeating the basics like—cough cough—Kanye West’s Jesus is King). It’s a metal, electronic hybrid that will dumbfound the contemporary—and prove that a lot of mainstream 2010s female artists could have sung about much more than just their over-bloated bank accounts and glorified sexualizations.
This is an addictively, head-banging, satanic album that is plausibly about Poppy’s questioning of belief, of her despisement of the norm, and ultimately her polarizing emotions towards the paradox of ultra pro-positive culture—it’s very edgy, indeed. In terms of instrumentals and production design, I would easily describe this as the best one of her three albums.
The first track Concrete isn’t exactly the most lyrically impressive work Poppy has done in all of her career—and even in those weird-ass YouTube videos. In fact, the weakest point of the LP I would say is her lyrical consistency. Sometimes her very straightforward and elementary lyrics work constructively, in the sense that they are mostly meant to mock predictable phrases, and sometimes they fall flat. The minimal use of the Japanese language in the song I Disagree is frankly needless and cringy, as well. Track 6 or Nothing I Need is a bit of a hit or miss; it feels awfully slow and out of place from the rest of the album, in my opinion. Nevertheless, when it comes down to it though, most of the tracks here are absolute bangers (notably, I Disagree, BLOODMONEY, Anything Like Me, Fill the Crown, Sit/Stay, and Bite Your Teeth) and you can’t argue with that unless you hate to just rock out to inventively executed, rebellious insanity every once in a while.
I Disagree which was the first track to be released by the artist on this album is a solid introduction into Poppy’s ear-catching whisk of cute, adorable tonalities and dismal, vicious lyrical content. BLOODMONEY I’ve said my piece on; it’s a bafflingly mind-blowing track especially in terms of production that ended up on my favorites singles of 2019 list. Anything Like Me is an extremely catchy song that follows a similar formula to Scary Mask in which the style and sound of the song are constantly at war with each other. It’s easily one of the best tracks on this LP and one that has some of the most fruitful production decisions. Fill the Crown is essentially a children’s motivational PSA gone wrong, with some monumental electronic and metal elements that really push forward a sort of a late “Korn” sound, as well as some “Korn-like” lyrical content.
Sit/Stay is a blatantly Nine Inch Nails inspired track that literally sounds like it could’ve come off of any one of Nine Inch Nails’s three recent EPs (which I consider a good thing) if it weren’t for Poppy’s occasional feathery vocals. Bite Your Teeth sounds like if Metallica meet Disney’s It’s A Small World, so, very appropriate. It has that sort of “parody” vibe going on that tackles the cheesy, motivational lines that we often come by in life when we feel emotionally exhausted. Sick of the Sun can be best described as “casually cynical.” It’s as if the happy instrumentals and vibe of the track are supposed to be normal for such hilariously dark lyrics; it legitimately made me chuckle the first time I heard it. The outro of the LP Don’t Go Outside is a fitting closing track and arguably the most interesting of the 10 songs. It has very harmonious and gorgeous-sounding string-work and some well-organized transitions placed throughout the single. I adore, as well, how the track ends with the lyrical hook of the 2nd track, I Disagree, but sung in a more angelic manner.
So yeah, I don’t usually review albums, but I thought this one was certainly worth reviewing, because its quality caught me off guard, and considering the hate Poppy has gotten throughout her entire career, I wanted to add some more positive thoughts to the unfortunate mix of hatred Poppy usually receives even in her musical career. All in all…
Poppy’s. I Disagree. Gets. A. Letter. Grade. Of…
“I Disagree” is now available to stream on most musical platforms.