POPPY – Flux
Released: September 24, 2021
Having already released a surprise EP earlier this year and her I Disagree album at the start of 2020, Poppy is showing no signs of stopping as she claws her way through the heavy/alternative scene, ready to leave her mark upon the world yet again with her latest offering Flux!
The title track kicks off the experience with it’s distorted synth intro taking us up to short and fast drum beats that take a turn for the alternative side (more so than her heavier roots on I Disagree) and her now iconic alluring vocals kick in, reminding us why we adore this surprise performer. The chorus breaks open and Poppy sings her heart out like a true star of the scene (reminiscent of Gwen Stefani in No Doubt long before her time) and by the song’s climax she’s screaming again and we’re off and running with Flux. Grunge-esque guitars and high-speed drumming come at you with ‘Lessen The Damage‘ which is just a whole lotta fun from start to finish. There’s distorted screams (which took me back to the early Spiderbait years) throughout and I can see this fast becoming a new fan favourite hit upon release. It’s a side that we haven’t seen Poppy take before, but she absolutely, positively nails her approach!
‘So Mean‘ lightens the mood a little, yet still holds onto that alternative rock vibe the band are honing in on with this new release. As Poppy brings her pop influences into the alternative/metal scene, we’re treated to a taste of both worlds with this one – repetitive pop vocals and underlaying (almost indie) rock riffs. Unfortunately for this writer, the song didn’t resonate with me upon release as a single and I’m still finding it hard to get into now. Probably best you skip this one if you’re looking for something with a little more oomph to it! ‘On The Level‘ will most certainly catch you off guard upon first stream. The pop-influenced vocal performance is back again in this song about finding that special someone on the same page as you, but throughout, there are moments where the guitars just play some static riffs that kinda/sorta distract you from what’s going on. At first it comes across intrusive, but when I gave it a second and third listen, I realised they’re there to represent the chaos that comes with love.
‘Hysteria‘ is up next and we’re slowing things down for this one – which is full of those juxtaposition moments where you wonder wtf you’re listening to!? If you tuned in halfway through during Poppy‘s “la-la-la-la-la” moments, you’d be mistake for thinking you’ve come across a new-age pop track, but after sitting on it from start to finish, you’re taken on an atmospheric stadium rock journey through space and time. Seriously, this song is just so awesome in so many ways and really showcases the approach the band took with the redording process (Fun Fact: They recorded all songs live to tape to give it a more organic feel throughout) and ‘Hysteria‘ is prime example of this working to their advantage!
‘Her‘ brings back the 90s alt-rock riffs and synth combo that has made this album a surprise hit for me! It’s like we’ve been transported back to the era where female fronted bands like Garbage, Killing Heidi, Spiderbait, No Doubt and Hole reigned supreme (and the music video reflects this too) however the inclusion of screams in the background of the chorus serve as an updated reminder that the 90s were 30 years ago and
we’re old as fuck now screams are so in right now! The tempo increases for ‘Bloom‘, yet Poppy‘s vocals remain slow, soft and sweet. The main focal point of this song is definitely the drums in the background which you’ll find hard to ignore – that is until Poppy‘s now infamous stopdown/change in direction kicks in and you’d be forgiven for thinking the song ended abruptly and a new one started. It isn’t as noticable as her pop-metal hit ‘X‘, but it’s definitely more palatable when listening to Flux from start to finish.
‘As Strange As It Seems‘ is slow, soft and skippable. I didn’t mean to be so blunt with that comment but after giving this a couple of spins in a row, I just couldn’t get into it, especially considering you have some fast-tempo, high-energy tracks like the aforementioned before it. It sounds out of place with the rest of the tracklisting and the only redeeming factor was that it flows effortlessly into album closer ‘Never Find My Place‘ which, in doing so, turns both tracks into an 8 minute experience. I was about to write off how the band missed the mark with the closing track but in the third act, the energy picks up, the screams return as Poppy belts out ‘You broke into my life’ over and over and over again and we’re taken out slowly, like a boxer retiring from the ring after one last bout…
As someone who has been a fan of Poppy since she forced her way into the heavy scene back in 2018, I have admired her dedication to trying new things and adapting to the genres she dabbles in. While I was kinda disappointed in the end result of I Disagree (too overhyped for my liking), Flux has not only won me over again, but proven Poppy has well and truly earned her spot amongst the greats of the alternative scene. I can foresee Flux becoming the transition album for pop fans who want to listen to edgier/heavier music and for heavy/alt fans to dive back into their pop roots which may have been laying dormant, waiting for the right opportunity to break out again!
Poppy – Flux tracklisting
2. Lessen The Damage
3. So Mean
4. On The Level
8. As Strange As It Seems
9. Never Find My Place