ALBUM REVIEW: I Disagree (POPPY)
ALBUM I Disagree // ARTIST Poppy
Conjuring a sinewy bridge between ambitious pop and triumphant industrial mayhem, American sonic alchemist Poppy revels in eccentricity and ingenuity with her third full-length I Disagree that dropped into the world late last week.
Starting her professional life as a YouTube ingenue just over five years ago, the meteoric rise of the feverishly enigmatic artist known as Poppy (aka Moriah Pereira) is one shrouded in success, mystical grandeur and reinvention. And while her online identity has frequently mirrored her gritty, candy-coated artistry, it's on her latest sonic adventure with her third full-length I Disagree that we see an evolved and heightened Poppy grasp her roots and smash her industry frustrations like a knife-wielding unicorn running rampant across a universe filled with anime and Nine Inch Nails.
Leaping once again on her favoured dichotomy between coquettish charm and venomous menace, it's clear Poppy's building blocks previously seen on 2017's Poppy.Computer and 2018's Am I a Girl? are back to play in 2020. But in place of the sheer novelty of mutation seen on her earlier outings comes an assured and sharply executed endeavour that reboots Poppy from unique oddity to substantial player as she sheds her previous label and collaborator and wraps her glitchy pop up in some scathing metal to deliver an uplifting monster of an album.
Opening with a menacing Poppy whispering "bury me six feet deep", Concrete roars the album to life, snapping between dreamy J-pop tones, sweaty djent breakdowns and Beatles-esque trips as Poppy leans into a style that is perhaps best described as bubblegum prog. The album's title track I Disagree follows next, opening briefly with Poppy whispering in Japanese before sweltering guitars, thicc industrial tones and hip hop tinges take over. Sugary vocals swap between belting shouts as this pleasant tune licks at hints of 90s-era Gwen Stefani put through an industrial rock meat grinder.
I DISAGREE (POPPY)
Following on we are gifted with rap rock vocals over dank grooves wuith BLOODMONEY, before Anything Like Me finds Poppy living up to her Madonna-meets-Marily-Manson reputation as gnarled instrumentals and razor-blade riffs erupt beneath Poppy's androgynous vocals that flip between serenity and mayhem, leading perfectly into the alien banger that is Fill The Crown. Boasting a genre hybrid of lush pop, glitching electro and blasting rock, Fill The Crown flits seamlessly back and forth between dark and light, providing a decadent ride that's as memorable for its shifts as it is for its ethereal gravel and earnest motif that "you can be anyone you want to be, you can be free",
FILL THE CROWN (POPPY)
The second half of I Disagree unfurls in a new wave haze, with the dreamy Nothing I Need offering up the most subdued tune on the album, before Sit Stay pumps up the jam, dishing up a pulsing chameleon of shifting soundscapes and urgent digital beats that culminates in a menacing cacophony of garbled release, perfectly setting up the riotous Bite Your Teeth. Finding Poppy at her most experimental yet, Bite Your Teeth is a delightfully deranged jaunt that calls to mind the frenzy of Mr Bungle blended with some bruising sludge and the occasional serene reprieve as Poppy chants "don't cry, keep on trying" amid a madcap backdrop.
BITE YOUR TEETH (POPPY)
Before we bid farewell to I Disagree, Poppy once again flashes her genre flair on Sick Of The Sun as crooning and sun-drenched guitars give way to an electronic hip hop love letter thick with upbeat melodics and swooning progressions (and a harmonic outro that will incite drooling for those with a penchant for diminished chords). And in true Poppy fashion we close out with a furtive flourish as Don't Go Outside opens with silky smooth vocals and soft acoustics, building into the return of chunky guitars a third of the way through, and throwing in a theramin for good measure along the way. It's a hauntingly positive way to close, complete with a theatrical guitar-driven breakdown, a peek at more fragile (and less auto-tuned) vocals as Poppy adamantly declares "you can be anyone you want to be", before the rattling hum and fluid vocals promptly end on a singular humble triangle note.
It's clear throughout I Disagree that Poppy is facing her professional and personal demons head on as she coats menace with glee, despair with hope, and a sonic metamorphosis that is only eclipsed by her ongoing ability to mix the approachable and the alien with effortless ease. Over the course of I Disagree, there's a firm sense of Poppy's self-described "kawaii Barbie child", but rather than solely use it for spectacle or cheap gimmick, it's harnessed into a bewitching display of stylised finesse that signals greater depths to this unorthodox artist than the shiny exterior suggests. Outlandish, arcane and gleefully potent, dissent has never sounded sweeter than on Poppy's I Disagree and it's an exciting step into a new decade from an artist eternally poised in the distant future.
POPPY'S THIRD FULL-LENGTH I DISAGREE IS OFFICIALLY OUT NOW THROUGH SUMERIAN RECORDS. FOR MORE POPPY INFO, HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER