Poppy – ‘I Disagree’ review: a very modern pop star sheds her satirical skin

"I'm Poppy," she once told us. And, although she's dropped the act and turned in an album that's more metal than pop, that remains fundamentally true

Poppy’s evolution has been rapid. 2017’s debut album ‘Poppy.Computer’ was a sugary slice of bubblegum pop that worked alongside her viral, satirical Youtube videos. Mixing the mundane with the ridiculous, she interviewed a self-aware plant and found a rival in ‘Charlotte’, a sentient shop mannequin. A video of her eating candyfloss has amassed three million views. Her repeating of the phrase “I’m Poppy” has been seen over 23 million times. You know, normal first album stuff.

The follow-up came a year later with ‘Am I A Girl?’. An album in three acts, it questioned identity, celebrity and climate change while exploring the world of electro-pop, and saw Poppy continuing to play the part of a child of the internet. The record ended with ‘X’, an album closer that jumped between serenity and rage and saw Poppy add a little metal to her ever-expanding pool of influence, signposting the start of a new chapter.

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With a history like that, it’s no surprise that album three is an eclectic, bonkers adventure. Sure, ‘I Disagree’ is the logical next step for Poppy, but also heralds a new beginning as she steps away from the character play that’s defined every other release. Instead of playing a part, ‘I Disagree’ sees Poppy take off her mask.

The opening back-and-forth of ‘Concrete’ represents nu-metal for a new generation and sees her sing about wanting to kill off an older version of herself amid musical breakdowns, harmonies and a crowd chanting her name. Months after it was released as the first single from ‘I Disagree’, it’s still a joyful shock to the system.

The pop-metal title track sees Poppy stand her ground and refuse to settle for less than she deserves: “I disagree with the way you continue to pressure me / I disagree with the way you are failing to pleasure me.” Later she offers a hope for the world: “If only all of you could see the world I see / Then maybe everyone could live in harmony.” Skipping between fury and optimism, ‘I Disagree’ sees Poppy wrestle with destruction, new beginnings and how those two different visions fit together.

The Nine Inch Nails-inspired industrial rage of ‘BLOODMONEY’ is an abrasive push back at the industry Poppy finds herself surrounded by. “Never forget the excess of a man,” she roars, “because the grabbing hands always grab what they can.” This is followed by the surprisingly serene ‘Anything Like Me’, which finds menace in the quietest of places.

In amongst the anger, the shock and the bubbling melting pot of influences, ‘I Disagree’ is a record about finding pride in who you are. It’s a journey Poppy knows all too well.

“I’ll never ask permission,” she promises on the dreamy escape of ‘Nothing I Need’. “You can be anyone you want to be,” she encourages on the Marilyn Manson-influenced ‘Fill The Crown’. Full of fizzing energy and delivered with clenched fists, closing epic ‘Don’t Go Outside’ sees Poppy wage war with the idea that we should be scared. We’re not doomed. We’re not hopeless. “Everything will be ok,” she argues, defiant and fearless.

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Poppy is the living embodiment that change is a good thing. ‘I Disagree’ is her most accomplished record, full of daring theatre and snarling forward motion. While all our favourite rock bands are going pop, Poppy is unapologetically embracing her desire to go heavy. It might be inspired by the bands she grew up listening to, but there’s not a moment on ‘I Disagree’ that feels like a throwback. Try and keep up with her.

Details:

Release date: November 10

Record label: Sumerian Records

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