Poppy digs into whole Canon rock on both ‘FLUX’
Posted on Sep 22, 2021
Poppy has changed her musical style. Again.
When Poppy presented herself to the world with her debut album Poppy. Computer in 2017, the singer gave us bright pop songs that reflect (and satirize) the digital culture through which her character was built. With his second studio album, 2018’s Am i a girl, Poppy began to dabble with heavy songs: “X” and “Play Destroy” fused candy pop and thrash in a style reminiscent of Japanese kawaii metal.
When Poppy’s partnership with producer Cory Mixter (aka Titanic Sinclair) ended after Am i a girl, his exploration of metal continued – and culminated – in the 2020 album I To disagree and this year TO EAT EP, both of which are avant-garde explosions of heavy metal and gritty industrialist, frequently juxtaposed with classic sweet and sweet pop melodies of Poppy.
After gaining critical acclaim for this unique sound, Poppy decided it was time to move on. Earlier this summer, she released the singles “Her,” “Flux” and “So Mean,” three pop-grunge songs that bring home some catchy hooks listeners can sing along to after the first listen. The rest of the songs on FLUX follow a similar pattern: moving away from the whimsical and shocking approaches to songwriting, she maintains a more traditional form. Unlike his work on I do not agree and TO EAT, almost all the songs on FLUX follow the standard verse-chorus-bridge construction. In some ways, this record is Poppy’s most commercial work to date.
The song “Hysteria” is inspired by tense post-punk; the soundscape of shoegaze and space travel in “Strange As It Seems” appears to be a love letter to Billy Corgan’s work in the early ’90s; and “Lessen the Damage” is a throwback to ’80s punk. But all the genres and conventions it borrows from are refreshed with a poppy twist.
First, there are the voices. Fans of Poppy’s heavier work may be disappointed that FLUX does not contain any of the purely animal calls of I do not agree Where TO EAT. But in addition to the clear vocals, in the crescendo of songs like “Her”, “Flux” and “Never Find My Place”, Poppy adds a layer of “soft” screams – something between being in key and making noise. Then there is the lyrical content. Maybe not a concept album, FLUX is still unified under the central theme of self-understanding, through Poppy’s reconciliation of personal identity with the world’s perception of her.
She begins the journey of self-discovery on the title track, in which she takes stock of her musical career up to this point: “For your amusement, for your confusion / Guess I’ll do it because I’m bored. / There is no attention span shorter than mine or yours. ” Poppy’s journey also brings her to a moment of existential questioning – “How did I get here?” She sings on the third track, “So Mean”. Eventually, the journey ends with self-acceptance: “I’m fine if I never find my place,” she sings over the aforementioned closest.
FLUX fits in and around the broad category of rock and its derivatives, but what it really does is encapsulate Poppy’s desire to evolve across genres. She identified that her constant need for change – for flow – is, ironically, the very thing that gives her consistency. With this album, Poppy makes it very clear that her new niche is having no niche. (Sumerian)