Drawing by @kawaiic.art on Instagram
Internet chanteuse-android creature Poppy’s third studio album starts out with a warning siren which is all too appropriate.
Poppy has been an underground web sensation for years – premiering seemingly out of the blue on YouTube where the eerily disconnected blonde told us repeatedly: “Delete your Facebook. Delete your Facebook.” Her dark brown eyes and her fair skin and Tinkerbell voice warning the world about the bizarre trappings of the cyber universe were reminiscent of Japanese horror heroines or prophets from the future.
Having recently severed ties with producer and collaborator Titanic Sinclair, Poppy (born Moriah Rose Pereira) is back with a vengeance. And we mean vengeance. The album seethes from beginning to end – starting with the lyrics “Bury me six feet deep…bury me in concrete…turn me into a street.” Those familiar with the sounds of Babymetal, the Japanese girl group that plays along to thrashing speed guitars, will find a similar chord with Poppy. Part of this sounds intentional as the album’s title track, “I Disagree,” begins with Japanese lyrics and dropped D guitars. Poppy says she disagrees “everything in your life is a tragedy” which might as well be the mantra of these super dark times we are living in.
She has already dropped three videos for the album and “BLOODMONEY,” which has slasher film screeches and Nine Inch Nails sounding industrial twists, is perhaps the strongest visually. As Poppy kicks around covered in blood and donning plasticine cyber couture, she asks the ultimate question: “What do you believe when nobody is watching?” Not since 1994’s “The Downward Spiral,” has anyone been so direly confrontational without being embarrassing at the same time. Many of dared but very few have succeeded, and Poppy is at her best when she is unapologetic. One might think that a vocal range that at times borders on Britney Spears at her very best would be a detriment, but Poppy taking her voice there (such as on tracks “Anything Like Me” and “Sick of the Sun”) only helps serve up her revenge-like dessert to a starving listener.
Rarely these days does a studio album in a newer genre flow so naturally, but from start to finish, the mastering of “I Disagree” is perfect. Poppy again takes a nod from Japanese pop stars – she has tons of merch ranging from trenchcoats emblazoned in Norwegian death metal font to graphic novels and replicas of her pet houseplant.
Pitchfork Magazine, despite praising her crossover efforts in writing, gave the album only a 6.5 and one can’t help but recall this is the publication that deemed Grimes the artist of the last decade. Indie music fans of Grimes may remember the collaboration she and Poppy shared on “Play Destroy,” a saccharine-sweet numetal pop track that sounded spun for the realm of video gamers. Poppy and Grimes infamously fell out after Grimes deemed the track “meh” on Twitter and an incredulous Poppy responded by exposing that Grimes used NDA bullied songwriters and held allegedly insincere feminist views. Since then, the recently pregnant Grimes has been dating billionaire Elon Musk and Poppy has been hanging and collaborating with Marilyn Manson and Ghosthemene. Although Grimes’ new music like “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth,” “Pretty Dark” and “Violence” (co-performed by i_o in very very small lowercase letters) has certainly been good, Poppy’s sound and lyrical content are groundbreaking. It’s a pity Pitchfork and other reviewers are cowering in favor of Miss Claire Boucher (Grimes).
We may want to think that the days of the female musician feuds are over and/or are contrived from record companies but Poppy, like her predecessor and admitted inspiration, Gwen Stefani, is no hollaback girl by any means. Something tells me over time Poppy’s commitment to her dark arts and kawaii delivery will fill the crown of her own empire for years to come.