By Kwase Lane, Contributor
[I’m Poppy; 2018]
Key tracks: “Girls in Bikinis”, “Play Destroy”, “X”
Everyone’s favorite robot(?) girl(?) has returned, showering listeners with more sugary beats in her second studio album, Am I a Girl?. Moriah Pereira, more widely known by her stage name Poppy, has had a near meteoric rise from her start as a YouTube oddity in 2014. This project is colored Poppy’s signature cotton candy pink and dotted with hints into her persona’s outlandish origins. She has shown herself to be adept at conjuring oceans of sweet tunes, but when placed side by side her poppier pieces become indistinguishable.
Read more: Album Review: Poppy–Poppy Computer
“Girls in Bikinis” reveals a key blemish that is hidden under the layers of foundation that coat the face of the Poppy brand. The song expresses wonderful ideas in a way only a delightfully innocent alien(?) could, but this isn’t enough. Giving a song ironic undertones or a lovable message doesn’t make the song any more listenable. Echoing synth drums leave the track feeling crowded and hollow at the same time. This isn’t helped by the chorus that doesn’t really have anything to say: “Girls in bikinis / Girls in bikinis on roller skates, in outer space / I see girls in bikinis / Girls in bikinis and platform heels, in new hot wheels.” The second verse and bridge are breaths of fresh air, serving as a childlike meditation on gender roles. The sentiments aren’t enough to save the track though, and the song suffers from its uninspired composition.
In “Play Destroy”, Poppy takes the issues found in her style and uses them to her advantage. Poppy’s taken her kind, immature style and doused it with a healthy dose of nu-metal sound. The result is an immeasurably fun romp into a darker genre with neither flavor overpowering the other. Grimes lends her vocals, serving as a sort of guide for Poppy into this new sound. The track begins with heavy electric guitar riffs, only to be parted by the two women’s voices. The deeper tones explored in this track make the moments where Poppy returns with her candy-coated vocals feel like an angel saving you from the depths of hell.
If “Play Destroy” was Poppy dipping her toes into the pool, then X is a perfect 10 of a cannonball. “X” is everything anyone could love about Poppy pushed to the next level and then some. The song starts with Poppy cooing like a kid that just found a new toy, but she somehow commands her new sound with expert precision. The chorus is a beautifully disgusting repetition of “Get me, get me bloody, please get me bloody”, that is then restated by a raspy demonic voice. This is followed by a quiet ominous moment that is reminiscent of the videos on her YouTube channel. By the end of the song, her new and old styles have coalesced into a powerful, dynamic wave that leaves the listener wishing for more.
Poppy’s newest project is a mildly disappointing walk through a pre-explored territory. That is until she flips a switch in “Play Destroy”, and the album becomes a uniquely entertaining walk between two diametrically opposed genres one would think to result in a cacophonous mess. Poppy nimbly dances across this tightrope and makes it look easy. Unfortunately, the experimental nature of the album’s final two songs is held back by ten others that are content to hike already documented paths. Hopefully Poppy continues to march this unlit trail undeterred of the unknown. Whatever she finds will be wholly hers, and most likely a blast to listen to.