Every once in a while a quirky ‘out-there’ artist will burst onto the scene. I remember when Lady Gaga took the world by storm. Her eccentric nature was always at the forefront of her image and music. More recently, there has been Grimes, who has pushed the boundaries of pop, as Gaga did with The Fame Monster.
Whilst Gaga changed disco infused pop, Grimes has moulded her own take on synth pop. She’s a fairy with sparkling, magical music to match. Now the universe has conjured another quirky musical escapade for us. It’s time for another weird and wonderful artist to appear. I introduce to you… Poppy and her own world of genre-changing strange.
Poppy is a character and the origin of her character is that she’s been manufactured to be the ‘perfect’ pop star. Her character mirrors the youth of today, she is obsessed with the internet and technology. She has her own Youtube channel as well as utilising social media to its full effect. Even in interviews, Poppy stays as Poppy, the character isn’t broken. Her debut album Poppy.Computer has arrived and it’s the perfect look into who and what Poppy is about.
Poppy.Computer is a 21st century pop album in sound and substance. It’s full of bubblegum hooks and loud, catchy choruses. The production is clean, bizarre and bouncy, being heavily influenced by K-POP/J-POP (the album was recorded in Japan). The lyrical content adds to the world-building Poppy has been tirelessly curating for the last few years. Lyrically it revolves around technology, her pop star status and an abundance of being both cute and sharp with her subtle wit.
This album is carefully calculated and if anything, it fits with the whole ‘manufactured’ aesthetic she’s portraying. Each song is short and sugary sweet, with enough of Poppy’s personality shining through to make it unique. Poppy.Computer is a refreshing pop album compared to what has been shoved down the general public’s throat lately.
It’s clear from the opening track (and lead single) “I’m Poppy” that this isn’t your typical pop experience. The track is basically a short biography about who Poppy is and it’s a brilliant opener. Instrumentally, it sounds like a videogame (with nods to Super Mario) with the bleeps and bloops building to a spectacularly head-bopping, dance floor worthy chorus.
After the curveball introduction, Poppy keeps the momentum by dipping into another aspect of her persona. “Bleach Blonde Baby” is Poppy at her cutest, with the warm, adorable chorus featuring some simplistic yet ear-pleasing melodies. The way she softly sings “I’m softer than a daisy, if you cut me I’ll bleed pink / I’m bleach blonde, baby, that’s how God made me” is so, so good.
Once the track ends, you’re thrown into the Lion’s den with “Microphone“, an urgent, guitar driven track. Again, the lyricism is clever and the cutesy chorus really amps up the K-POP influence; which is built upon in the following track “Moshi Moshi“. Throughout the album, there’s definite nods to Kero Kero Bonito and that isn’t something to scoff at, as it works in Poppy’s favour.
The weirdest tracks are some of the best, “Computer Boy” is a noisy banger about falling in love with a computer, literally. She drops a killer line with “I want your Floppy Disk to be my Hard Drive“, and the beat is a throwback to early 2000s electropop. Then there’s the 1-2 rhythmic “My Style“, which is driven by a barebones, drum-heavy instrumental until the lush electronics enter during the chorus.
The synths glisten and begin to get wild around 1:30, sounding like the 80s; you can just imagine the disco ball sparkling above the ‘glammed’ up audience. Ending the chain of weird is “Interweb“, which alongside the intro track, is my personal favourite.
“Interweb” is Poppy’s take on a ominous dance track. The beat is big and spooky, accompanied by eerie vocals. The eeriness ramps up during the chorus, which is pretty sinister, followed by hypnotic, ‘la la la la’s’. Despite how spooky “Interweb” is, you can’t help but want to dance. “Interweb” is one of Poppy’s best tracks to date, that’s for sure.
Whilst I may not have mentioned the tracks in between and after the trifecta of bizarre, that doesn’t mean they’re not good. “Software Upgrade” features well-written melodies, with Poppy flexing her writing chops. I actually burst out laughing when she croons “You never make me any food / And you are never in the mood / So come on baby, tell me, are you gay?“.
Every track offers something for her fans and newcomers alike. The entire album is pure pop on the highest voltage. I’ve purposely avoided talking too much about the album’s journey from start to finish, in terms of what the song’s explore. I don’t want to spoil all the little gems you’ll encounter throughout the listening experience, Poppy.Computer explores who Poppy is and what she’s really about. It’s the perfect introduction to Poppy’s world and it’s such a blast to listen to.
Poppy has delivered the weirdest, creepiest yet cutest pop album in quite some time. The album is an exercise in creativity and it’s unrivalled in terms of scope and wackiness. She has created an album that many pop artists would be envious of. Her debut accurately reflects the era of pop that has birthed her, and one up’s her peers in just about every way.
Poppy.Computer ushers in the future of pop music and you best join Poppy’s cult, otherwise you’ll end up de-activated. Press play and ride the unicorn into the centre of Poppy’s weird world, I dare you. Out now via Mad Decent, purchase Poppy’s Poppy.Computer album here.
Words by Jake Gould