Sunday, October 03, 2021

Poppy’s aptly titled ‘Flux’ marks a new chapter in her ever-evolving sound

Anyone who knows of Poppy can agree that she’s taken her fans on a wild musical ride over the past years, from the electronic pop world of ‘Poppy.Computer’, that more clearly extended from her robotic Youtube personality, to packing all that in for the nu-metal, hard-rock ‘I Disagree’.

Now, we see Poppy take an exciting deep dive into the whole spectrum of rock.

‘Flux’ explodes with one of its pre-released singles, that establishes itself as a clear rock hit, although be this after nearly a minute of sporadic instrumental build-up. Despite this track being the most musically similar to Poppy’s previous efforts, it does set the tone of the album as a radical departure from Poppy the ‘Youtube personality’, this being a character that directly declares her arguably superficial intentions behind her work stating, for example in her video ‘Love Button’, “like, follow, subscribe, numbers give my life meaning”.


In contrast to this, in the song ‘Flux’ Poppy toys with why she creates music on a far deeper level- “For your amusement, for your confusion / I guess I’ll do it ‘cause I’m bored / And no attention span is shorter / Than mine or yours”. This prepares listeners for the evolved, introspective nature of the rest of the album.


Perhaps the most promising avenue of rock Poppy experiments within this album is in the short but sweet 2-minute track ‘Her’. Aside from the riff that resembles Wolf Alice’s 2015 track ‘Fluffy’, it is safe to say that this tune completely embodies 90’s grunge, to the extent that Courtney Love could be proud of. This is certainly the album’s most standout track.


Notably however, are the efforts in exploring indie and alt-rock in ‘Hysteria’, a softer track that finishes with repeated sultry moans of song title. The dreamy tone of this track is very complimentary with Poppy’s vocals. Further to this, ‘So Mean’, is a welcomed introduction to ‘Poppy the punk’, a track that would be well-suited to play during a bad-ass feminist moment in St Trinians or Gossip Girl.


Despite all this evolution however, fans of Poppy’s previous eras have no cause for concern as ‘Flux’ is not devoid of Poppy’s famous plays with pop and metal, genres both teased and sometimes wielded together throughout. The best example of this is in ‘On A Level’ where Poppy interjects a heavy drum and guitar interval to the previously calm, indie-pop song then halts it suddenly to return back to the realm of indie.  


Overall, this album’s title ‘Flux’ certainly lives up to its name, evident in Poppy’s wide exploration of the genre of rock and her repeated direct address of her feelings of chaos and uncertainty. This occurs for example, in ‘Hysteria’, with the lyrics “I can't say I'm in control of my moods / You light me up like a short fuse”, and more obviously in ‘Bloom’ by saying “Could I be great or be remembered? / Uncertainty I cannot even measure”.


This record however sounds cohesive, and certainly not as chaotic as Poppy feels, because of this consistent address of uncertainty, something she satisfyingly works through and processes throughout. 


For example, Poppy starts and wraps up this album with flux, beginning straight away by addressing it negatively as change after trauma in the ‘Flux’ lyrics “My body is fluid / ‘Cause I’ve been through it all” and wrapping up with the acceptance of flux with the ‘Never Find My Place’ lyrics “’Cause I know that I’d be fine / If I never find my place”.


The final line here also teases that this is certainly not the final Poppy era. So buckle your seatbelts because the flux isn’t over yet.


Frankie Golding
Image: ‘Flux’ Official Album Artwork


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