I know this can be a shock to everyone reading this, but just because at the best of times I look a Viking on Crack, that doesn’t mean to say I don’t like to let my beard down and boogie. Give me a decent Pop hook, half a bottle of spiced rum and I’ll be there on that dance floor, awkwardly dancing what can best be described as alike to a dying antelope being severely pummelled by the business end of a lion. After several dismal and dreary albums that the rock community bestowed on me, this is indeed one of those times where I need to dive off the deep an embrace something different and alien to my comfort zone of guttural screaming and angst ridden edgy anthems about the rising prices of Freddo bars.
Poppy is an interesting artist (to put it very mildly), a parody of YouTube stardom. She has grown a cult like reputation, garnering fans from across the musical spectrum. While such parodies can be met with cynical smirks, mainly due to the fact that it’s been done over and over again, there is something alluring to Poppy’s gimmick which makes everything seem fresh – a new way of looking at an often over satirised culture.
Her first album, 2017’s ‘Poppy.Computer’, was an interesting experience. It provided overly catchy songs, but were so grandiose and bloated, one couldn’t be blamed for having a headache. It really wasn’t a good album to place her on the map and the lyrics fell just short of being something memorable. Then over the course of this year, there was new activity, new YouTube ‘Vlogs‘ a cover of Gary Numan’s legendary classic ‘Metal’ and several new singles, all of which were looking to write the wrongs of the past and cement Poppy as a new cult hero of the ages.
So did Poppy achieve that with her newest release ‘Am I A Girl?’ – Um… Yes… In a way…
Here’s where the album works, it does improve on Poppy’s overall sound. The music itself is catchy and there isn’t a point where you feel it was overproduced or where they threw everything in the blender and hoped for the best. Everything about this album feels precise and calculated, an audio treat that isn’t afraid to explore different genres. Some songs have a that Bubblegum Pop vibe, other songs have that mellowed out House vibe, whilst other songs you could easily see being blasted in a club somewhere in Essex.
Then there’s the last two songs on the album, which I will get too in a little bit, because, well I wasn’t expecting this at all and this needs a section of review to be talked about.
The album kicks off with ‘In A Minute’ a blatant stab at those artists who just want to sing about girly culture or as I like to call it “spoilt bitch syndrome Pop“. Make-up, jewellery, the kind of subject matter that sadly, sees many a young girl to the offices of psychologists over impossible beauty standards the mainstream media like to pick up on.
Poppy is at her best talking about subjects she clearly understands and may have even experienced and this song alone shows that. Songs like ‘Fashion After All’ and ‘Chic Chick’ continue those themes of the obsessive and selfish culture us Millennial’s seem to be called out on by older generations.
However, the albums finest moment comes with the song ‘Time Is Up’ with Diplo. The first single to come out with this album, it can be described as fucking terrifying if it wasn’t so well written and produced. In case you don’t understand the character Poppy is meant to be an Android, that is her whole gimmick; in writing a song about climate change and basically saying, she’s going to be fine, because she’s an android, she is holding a mirror to our ever increasing ignorant culture towards something that is set to wipe us all out on the earth.
Sure, there are songs like this all over the place, but the difference is that, where most of these artists come off as preachy and almost hypocritical in their delivery, Poppy is essentially saying we’re all f***ed and not to come crying to her when we “kill all the bee’s and every river bed is dry as a bone”.
The album then starts to tail off a little bit after this and this is where the cracks appear for ‘Am I A Girl?’. The overall music is still catchy and goes down smoother than honey bourbon, but the lyrics do get a little samey. ‘Girls in Bikinis’ tries to take on toxic masculinity, only it just scratches the service of a problematic aspect of modern male life, that could be looked into more carefully and could be more cleverly written. Whilst ‘The Rapture Ball’ is a mish-mash of “it’s end of the world as we know it and I am very drunk on shots to notice” and it falls flat.
Then there are the final two songs, ‘Play Destroy’ and ‘X’ and well, where the f**k did they come from?! I would imagine if this was the part of the album you fell asleep, these two songs are the symbols Poppy crashes over your ear drums to wake you the fuck up!
They are two metal songs, in a nutshell and it’s almost staggering how these two songs alone are better than most of the crap I have had to endure this year! Heavy as f**k Nu-Metal/Industrial style guitars that soon kick into cheery Pop hooks and Poppy’s innocent singing style, is a weird mix that somehow all works and put bluntly, is sexy as fuck!
And you know something, I can actually defend this, mainly because I am not a Metal elitist who thinks that Metal should be exclusive to just metal, unlike some of the troglodytes you see on certain other Metal forum comment sections!
Some outsiders to the metal culture may lose their lunches over these songs, but here’s the thing Poppy isn’t meant to be an exclusive style for listeners. It would appear that Poppy knows that at the very best, she is going to be a cult icon, something that mainstream music listener won’t be bothered to learn about or find her a little too obscure for their tastes and therefore is making a sweeping attempt at gathering her demographic for those who like a mixed musical diet and is not afraid to study the music either.
It sounds snobby and I hate snobby music fans, but that’s the best way I can describe ‘Am I A Girl?’ it’s an album that sounds good on the surface, but peel that layer skin off and the inner wires and circuitry is there for all to see and discuss. Poppy is gearing up to be a Gary Numan of current times and while there a few swings and misses ‘Am I A Girl?’ is a more polished, more focused album compared to her début, the future is indeed bright for our YouTube Android, providing we don’t kill ourselves in the process.