Anyone who has known me for more than an hour knows about my 100% unironic love for Poppy. I’ve even joined her church.
Ever since 2016’s Bubblebath EP, I’ve listened to each of her releases. I watched in fascination as she transitioned from a seemingly lovey-dovey bubblegum pop idol to a more refined contemporary artist that embraced electronic backing tracks and futuristic lyrics to what she’s become recently: a pop-industrial-metal goth icon. It’s been a wild ride so far, but looking back on her discography, one can pretty easily connect the dots to see how she became what she is today.
So how does this gnashing-of-teeth, burn-it-to-the-ground, don’t-fuck-with-me attitude fit with Poppy’s already unusual style? Really goddamned well, as it turns out. This album almost had me banging my head at times and even gave me a healthy dose of frisson on the final track. I’ve listened to metal and industrial music for a long time, so for a pop artist’s take on the genres to affect me that way seems like a triumph to me. And, seeing how I’m pretty late to the party on this one, it’s interesting to see just how often Poppy’s lyrics on this album line up perfectly with the pandemic that reared it’s head a couple months after the album’s release. See: “Don’t Go Outside.”
Of course, not everything here works. No album is perfect, after all. For instance, the album starts with the fairly bland “Concrete” and sets an underwhelming tone right off the bat. But, knowing how well the rest of the album comes together, I’m on board with her putting her worst foot forward. (Besides, it’s a natural next step from the end of 2018’s Am I a Girl? before diving headfirst into this new style.) The rest of the songs mostly work, though, other than parts that are rough around the edges. The clunky staccato chorus on “Sit/Stay” makes a little bit of bile rise in my throat, for example.
However, despite all of that, the bottom line is that I fucking loved this album. Most of the songs are both heavy and catchy, and the softer songs are hauntingly beautiful. If you’re open to the idea of blending brutal music genres with more mainstream genres, I absolutely recommend giving this a listen. Hell, you should listen to it even if you’re a pleb that doesn’t agree with the marriage of these two camps.
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