Since the start of her career, it’s been impossible to pin down the person behind the Poppy persona. From strange robot-themed Youtube videos to bubblegum pop songs to touring with Bring Me The Horizon, the artist has had quite an intriguing journey. The musical chameleon, who originally rose to fame as a Youtuber, has just released her fourth album, ‘Flux’, which shows her clawing her way through heavier flavours.
The ambitious leap into a new genre puts a renewed focus on a stream-lined songwriting approach that puts her indelible vocal melodies at the foreground of a kaleidoscopic mosaic of overdriven guitars. ‘Flux’ sees Poppy continue to embrace her love of punk, rock and heavy metal but still keeps that day-dreaming pop element to it that some of her previous works have. In order to bring her vision to life, acclaimed producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who has worked with M83 and Jimmy Eat World, was brought in and had the band record live to tape. This aspect accentuates the warmth of the arrangements and lends a decidedly personal touch to the new set of material.
Opening with the album’s title track, ‘Flux’ sets the tone for the rest of the record by exploring a series of unconventional and industrial sounds. It starts off as a melodic pop-rock tune before quickly turning into something chaotic and terrifyingly loud that showcases Poppy’s dynamic rock-like vocals and inventive songwriting. Her vocals are one of the most noticeable changes here as her voice is crisp and direct. The creative decisions, fusing 80s bombast with 90s grunge, make this track worthy of sharing the album name as it sets the tone for what’s to follow.
Grunge-esque guitars and heavy, driving drums, which become a prominent feature of this record, come at you in ‘Lessen The Damage’. The punky track elevates in energy as when the instruments get more chaotic, Poppy unleashes an even more chaotic scream to match. The track is just a whole lot of fun from start to finish. It shows a never seen before side of Poppy and she absolutely nails it.
The unexpected scream that leads us into ‘On The Level’ is on par with ‘Lessen The Damage’ due to the chaotic energy. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard Poppy scream throughout this record, this one completely catches you off guard and may make you jump a little. The pop-influenced vocal performance is about finding someone special who is on the same page as you, and the bouncy mid-tempo track exhibits a little bit of a Paramore energy. Emphasis on the ‘little’. The mostly laid-back track comes off as intrusive at first, with the static guitar riffs distracting you, but that’s part of the storytelling. It represents the wild up and down ride that comes with love.
Being transported back to the 90s, ‘Her’ brings back the beloved 90s alt-rock riffs and synth combos. It’s easy to hear the Nirvana influence in the punchy rocker of a track as it hits the rawness of 90s grunge. Poppys range is impressive and she has strategically positioned herself between the genres of rock and metal while tapping into genres of pop-punk. The multitude of influences spill out of each of the nine tracks and shows that shifting sound isn’t always a bad thing. The highly consistent record boasting a laid-back playful feel is disrupted by the boasting distorted guitars but in the best way possible. Poppy is ready to leave her mark upon the world again with this hook-focused album that favours front-to-back consistency over constant mayhem and it makes you wonder what’s next.
Words: Shannon Garner
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