We’ve come a long way since Poppy – aka Nashville-raised singer Moriah Rose Pereira – first emerged in 2014, claiming to be some kind of sentient AI being. Over the years, she’s slowly shed that façade, replacing it with something more human – and much louder and raucous than the bubblegum pop she first introduced herself with.
After last year’s ‘I Disagree’ saw the musician go metal – and receive a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in the process – her fourth album ‘Flux’ dials back the heaviness a little. Instead, it merges her past pop hooks with the screams and shredding of that 2020 record, creating a world that shudders between sonic sugar rushes and eardrum assaults.
The former appears on songs like ‘On The Level’, which Poppy has described as her “first love song”. “I’m in love, I must confess,” she sings on the sweet, polished track, later adding giddily: “I found someone on the level, level, level, level, level, level.” ‘Hysteria’, too, strips back the distortion in favour of reverb-drenched guitars that give the song a similar air to New Order’s ‘Temptation’.
Noise is still very much the order of the day though. The whole album kicks off with the title track’s bursts of static, layered off by the sounds of a fax machine, both getting louder and eerier as the seconds tick by. Later, the singer adds to the wall of noise, lifting her voice into a guttural scream.
‘Flux’’s title hints at a period change, perhaps a reference to this being Poppy’s first album since parting with her former creative director Titanic Sinclair (she claimed in December 2019 he had exhibited “manipulative patterns” of behaviour towards her). Some of the record’s lyrics point to the break-up of a partnership and a woman reclaiming her power. “Took what I gave to you / I took it back from you,” she sings on the dreamy ‘Bloom’. “Now like a flower I bloom.” The fizzing grunge of ‘Lessen The Damage’, meanwhile, finds her rasping: “Leave her! Don’t touch her! / Let me be the one to destruct her!”
To Poppy, this album is about “accepting uncertainty” and she closes the record with a meditation on that in the form of the sparse ‘Never Find My Place’. “I know that I will be fine / If I never find my place,” she sings. ‘Flux’ finds her in limbo between genres and finding her feet through a big creative shift, but floating between sounds and ideas seems to suit her.