On January 10 2020 recording artist and YouTube enigma Poppy released her third studio album, I Disagree. It was a transformative record that offered a dizzying blend of melodic pure pop, nu metal, industrial, electronica, and whatever other genre you want to mention. A true cacophony of sounds that the singer herself dubbed post-genre. Her pristine fusion of sounds had no right to work as well as it did. Now, on August 14 2020, in what feels like several years later, Poppy has declared “It’s Poppy, bitch!” and given us more with four new tracks in the expanded edition – I Disagree (More).
She made her debut with a reggae tinged pop ditty, Lowlife. Happily sitting alongside Paris Hilton’s 2006 masterpiece Stars Are Blind with its similar blend of good times at the beach sound and darker lyricism. “Baby, you’re the highlight of my lowlife” she sweetly sung, while in the video she partakes in committing herself to devil himself to gain her pop stardom. This was released 3 years before 2018’s Vox Lux.
What followed was a stalled music career but a success turn as a YouTube star. YouTubers are notoriously the worst of the worst, but Poppy offered a satirical and unnerving take on the self indulgence that the platform flourishes at. From the confusing to the downright unsettling, videos were pumped out and gained quite the following to the point of her quite literally creating her own cult.
2018 saw the release of her second studio album, Am I A Girl? The album was an android rock opera where Poppy emerged not only as a compelling character, but a legitimately good musician. The album is a triumph that exists as one of the great examples of an artists developing artistry. The era itself offered everything an exciting pop star era should: A feud, legal drama, and its own great music to soundtrack It all.
It would be tacky to scandalise it too much as it has since been revealed that Poppy was in the midst of an abusive relationship with her former collaborative partner. I won’t waste words on him, but I can’t help acknowledging a different drama from the era.
It was announced that Poppy would be collaborating with the techno fairy herself, Grimes. It was a collaboration that truly elevated the authenticity of Poppy as an artist. It was impressive for her to collaborate with an acclaimed artist like Grimes, and with it came a curiosity for what they’d create together.
The duo collaborated on two songs, both of which were for Poppy’s album. However, as legal troubles hit the media about Poppy, Grimes did a quick duck for cover and cut ties. Thankfully, Poppy managed to release one of the tracks. The insane Play Destroy showcases Poppy’s ability to fuse genres and navigate some frightful horror with her oh so twee charm. The second song of the sessions together, We Appreciate Power, was released by Grimes herself only it featured HANA. From the Chris Greatti production, to the lyrics that are obviously part of the A.I. narrative explored in Poppy’s own album, one couldn’t help but roll their eyes when Grimes claimed the song was all her own and not released as the clear middle finger to Poppy that it was. It is ultimately a bummer that their collaboration ended up like it has, because both songs are fucking excellent.
Closing Am I A Girl? Was the truly bewildering track, X. It’s a song that was a pure revelation of Poppy’s discography. “Oooh, heavy” she teases with a crunching metal riff before it dives into a folksy ballad moment, only for the listener to be whiplashed into a heavy metal flirtation complete with blood referencing lyrics. It’s a trip of a song that closed the album with a wink of what was to come next.
2019 saw the scandal of the previous year calm down as she released her Choke EP that continued to build on her new direction, and extensive touring to establish her place in the metal community. The first taste of I Disagree came with Concrete, the cannibalistic sibling of X just like Scary Mask before, and let the audience know she’d fully embraced her now signature sound.
I Disagree is a relentless album with a statement of identity. While Am I A Girl? queried a lot of questions, I Disagree roars more than a few declarations. Coming for the jugular of capitalism, her former record label and legal woes, and even that particularly troubling collaborator of her past; Poppy offered insight into her experience as an artist battling for survival.
As much as she leaned into the heaviness and aggression of her metal sound, the album delivered its strongest moments with quiet and poignant meditations. Sick of the Sun in particular with its all too relatable desire to hide away from the world. Don’t Go Outside closes the original iteration of the album, and would come to be a fitting theme song for our Covid-plagued 2020. The song is yet another journey of genre shifting before it delivers the albums most impressive moment where she interpolates parts of her own tracks to brilliant effect.
The four new tracks that come with the (More) edition could’ve easily existed as just extra weight onto the end of an album that was already fully realised. Did it really need a re-release? Why not just a new EP? Thankfully the new songs do act as a complimentary expansion of the original album. Poppy has truly mastered her sound of Frankenstein stitched post-genre. With a new album already in the works, it’s exciting to consider just what Poppy’s next step will bring.