Poppy - I Disagree
Sumerian Records
Alt-Metal, Pop
10 songs (35:08)
Release year: 2020
Sumerian Records
Reviewed by Goat

A Youtube 'personality' who came to fame from pretending to be a robot in a series of mildly unsettling videos, Poppy (real name Moriah Rose Pereira) has been growing darker in recent releases, the ending track of her previous full-length Am I A Girl? juxtaposing Manson Family-esque pop with blood-drenched industrial/alt-metal (it's almost too cute for its own good, that opening "ooh, heavy!" will roll your eyes involuntarily) to the point where she (it?) is at a kind of unique Ghost-but-for-Jpop-fans plateau. And as you can tell from that black metal-influenced artwork, I Disagree is a step further in this darker direction, although it'd be difficult to imagine regular readers of this site being as disturbed or impressed as mainstream music media seems to be with Poppy. Much like her videos, this is mildly unsettling at best, yet as a combination of pop and metal designed around the heavy/light contrast it's also much better than you'd expect!

Opener Concrete is amongst the most avant-garde pieces present, throwing Poppy's (admittedly very pleasant) singing voice in 60s harmonies about being buried in concrete against sludgy riffing and widdly guitars more suited to a Queen tribute act. It fades out before making too much of an impact which is a clue to the first main flaw here; this album is written to appeal to pop fans rather than metal fans, so short, hook-filled pieces are the norm rather than anything more substantive. The songs vary in quality wildly, better pieces like the title track throwing cheerfully-sung lyrics about "burning everything down" against squealed Japanese phrases and downtuned guitars that aren't quite nu-metal but also aren't a million miles away. Ten years ago I would have dismissed the whole thing as awful but there does seem to have been a real effort to throw everything but the kitchen sink into this album, with lots of variety resulting in songs like BLOODMONEY and Sit/Stay that are more industrial than anything, but also have distorted melodies based around lead guitars on the former and a nicely Skinny Puppy-esque aesthetic on the latter.

Sure, moments like Anything Like Me that sound like Kanye West/Marilyn Manson mashups let I Disagree down a little, but even they have brief but endearingly widdly guitar solos, and although it sometimes comes over like an edgier version of Taylor Swift's Reputation at points (outright pop ballad Nothing I Need, for instance) it is also a serious attempt to introduce metal elements to an artist, and audience, that is unused to them. So Fill the Crown switches between synth-pop and groove metal with dashes of electronica and does them all well, while Bite Your Teeth throws everything from djent riffs to orchestral moodiness to System of A Down by way of Katy Perry at you, and manages to make it cohesive. Closing one-two Sick of the Sun and Don't Go Outside may be closer to atmospheric pop pieces than anything, but they're well-written and manage to seriously reference depression and introversion without coming over as cloying, and the switch to prog-tinged hard rock on the latter especially is effective even before the longest guitar solo on the album, the song something like a weird mashup of Nirvana and 90s Rush! As much as we true metalheads may sneer at things like this, it does help push people towards a heavier taste in music, and although I Disagree can't possibly live up to the hype that has been thrown around, it's a well-written and performed album that will appeal greatly to those that like Maximum the Hormone or follow Elon Musk on Twitter. Those that know the difference between, say, Niklas Kvarforth and Niklas Sundin will be a little harder to persuade...!

Killing Songs :
Concrete, I Disagree, Sit/Stay, Bite Your Teeth, Don't Go Outside
Goat quoted 70 / 100
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