Album Review: Poppy - 'I Disagree'
With her third studio album, Poppy finds a compelling niche, effortlessly combining metal, pop and rap to create a truly unique sound that pushes the boundaries of modern pop.
Since 2014 Moriah Rose Pereira has created surreal, abstract YouTube art pieces under the guise of the fictional persona Poppy. Along with these strange videos, Poppy released two albums named Poppy.Computer and Am I a Girl? – both received mixed critical reviews, complimenting her stylised, distant persona but criticising the overused bubble-gum pop aesthetic. Poppy and her business partner and director Corey Michael Mixter (or Titanic Sinclair, as he’s known in the industry) parted ways last year after she accused him of ‘manipulative patterns’, leading to a tumultuous period in the singer’s real life as she prepared to release her third album.
On her new LP, I Disagree Poppy reinvigorates her sound with a heavy metal influence and seems to have ditched the persona. Straight from the opener Concrete, this record is a wild ride, with soaring, catchy choruses juxtaposed with angular death metal guitar riffing. The whole song is mesmerizingly erratic (even including a Brian May-esque solo passage towards the end) and is a fantastic opener to an album. Moving on, the third track BLOODMONEY utilises ASMR type vocals mixed with rhythmic hardcore rapping. What also makes this track stand out is the absolute insanity of some of the mixing decisions – an incredibly harsh, grimy synth populates much of the song, making it sound positively warped.
However, next is really where the album ramps up with the song Anything Like Me. This is a track with heavy Billie Eilish vibes, with particular emphasis on the heavy. The song begins dark and disconcerting, progressing into screamed vocals and bludgeoning nu-metal riffs. I definitely didn’t expect to be seeing somewhat of a nu-metal revival in 2020, but Poppy seems to be at the forefront.
'Straight from the opener Concrete, this record is a wild ride, with soaring, catchy choruses juxtaposed with angular death metal guitar riffin'.
Perhaps my favourite track on the album, Fill The Crown, has a fist-pumping, relentless industrial beat with delightfully melodramatic, gothic backing vocals and a dreamy synth-pop outro, capped off with a ridiculously robotic guitar riff. At this point on the project, it became clear to me that Poppy was not just simply hijacking a genre to boost her own career, but is genuinely interested in producing music like this; she recently cited both Marilyn Manson and Norma Jean as heavy influences on her new LP. This is incredibly refreshing in modern pop music, a scene that has needed a shakeup like this for years now. With Poppy pulling from a wider variety of influences, it may just recapture many who felt disenfranchised with the previously stagnant genre. For example, on Sit/Stay, there’s a distinct The Prodigy influence that permeates throughout, adding yet more unexpected variety to the already out-there LP.
'At this point on the project, it became clear to me that Poppy was not just simply hijacking a genre to boost her own career, but is genuinely interested in producing music like this'.
Nevertheless, even an album as good as this is not without flaws unfortunately, with the tracks Nothing I Need and Sick of the Sun feeling relatively uninspired, utilising a tired pop formula and losing much of what made the surrounding songs so special. The closing song also does little to add to the project overall but at least feels like an apt conclusion to the relatively short album; it provides closure, finishing with the reprised line ‘You can be anyone you want to be’. I can’t help but hear this line differently after the events that transpired last year with her manager, with the lyric feeling like a defiant stand against some of the industry’s less than savoury types.
This is a fantastic album – a breath of fresh air for modern music – and will definitely see Poppy gain many new fans from a wide variety of musical tastes and backgrounds. I would like to see her continue down this route and explore even more radical musical combinations in future releases, hopefully producing more albums like I Disagree.