Who is Poppy? What is Poppy? Poppy is… Poppy. But Poppy has changed. The last two years have seen the music artist/YouTube quandary/possible rogue AI really break out of her shell, one likely held in place by a former collaborator and abusive boyfriend. Anger and resentment has come to a head, and Poppy must scream. Scream, Poppy… s c r e a m!
‘Oh, I’m sure this metal stuff is just a phase, she’s still a cheery pop singer!‘ Uh… *looks at Poppy‘s EAT EP, the musical project I and fellow writer Tyler are reviewing for you today, before adjusting my glasses and glancing back at this unknown speaker* You sure about that?
Say cheese! 😁
David: Hey Tyler, how are you? 🙂
Tyler: I’m doing pretty well! I’m thrilled that summer is starting, and it’s always a good time getting to check out and discuss some new music. How about you?
D: Same! The earth writhes in heat, as do I, so I retreat to my room to listen to music as everything burns.
T: You hit the nail right on the head, and I feel like the record we’re talking about fits that kind of mood, doesn’t it?
D: It kind of does, yeah. It’s a wildly unchained, defiant reimagining of self brought to us by none other than Poppy. I know you reviewed her last album, I Disagree, for our Missed Connections feature. One of the main reasons I listened to that was because I edited and read your review and… damn, that was a trip. I forgot, was that your first Poppy experience?
T: It was actually far from my first. I fell into her weird trap back in 2015 when she would release odd YouTube videos as a robotic character. I took it to represent that she was supposed to be a cliché pop star that was controlled by other forces. Ironically, it seems like that’s what actually happened to her in her current career, which all came to light around the time I Disagree came out. It’s insane, because Poppy took the opposite direction most artists do: she began as a poppy (ha!) artist that released mainstream music, but now she’s dived deeply into a more raw and visceral style that continues to transcend a specific genre. It’s fascinating to see how things have changed over the years.
D: This’ll be great because you have that history with Poppy then. I do not, but I think I’ve done enough research to keep up! To start off, I’m gonna say this in my best Tupac voice: first off, fuck Titanic Sinclair and the clique he claims. That situation with him as Poppy‘s business and life partner did not sound good at all, and I don’t wanna make light of that apparent controlling and abusive situation she was in… but holy shit, has the reaction from Poppy been meteoric to say the least. It’s very obvious that she’s kind of burned everything down and rebuilt from the ground up, and while that started with I Disagree – complete with little hidden digs at Sinclair as he was helping her write the album that are bright as day in retrospect – this new EP is just full-bore acceptance of change and cartwheeling into a new era.
T: I’d like to echo the ‘fuck Titanic Sinclair‘. I Disagree was a collaboration with him, so the attacks on his character didn’t seem as obvious until Poppy announced that she would no longer be working with him, but now, it’s completely blatant. There’s tons of things that are connected to his previous projects (I won’t go into the Mars Argo controversy, but I would recommend anyone unfamiliar to definitely read into that whole situation), so I genuinely believe she’s better off never working with him again. The EAT EP is proof of that. Where I Disagree showed a few bursts of aggression, I think this entire EP is a full-blown explosion on the frustrations she didn’t get to fully express previously.
D: Yeah, there’s literally screaming on every fucking song of this EP. Aside from a quick mid-song interlude or lighter ramp-up, the instrumentation matches that energy too. I was floored by how hard she decided to go on this. It should be noted at least for fact’s sake that this is a promotional EP of sorts with the full title being EAT (NXT Soundtrack), NXT being an offshoot of WWE apparently. I didn’t know wrestling music went this hard, but here we are!
There’s a lot going on here even with that fact – where I Disagree was a below-the-breath act of defiance, she’s just letting loose now, in a direction that she wants, in the way that she wants, and it’s so beautiful to see. Now she’s got wrestling money? That’s nothing to balk at.
What were some standout moments for you on this five-track ripper?
T: When I was younger, I used to be obsessed with WWE. I actually equate the music they would use for promotional purposes as part of my introduction to heavier music in general. I can’t even imagine my middle school brain hearing this EP. My head probably would’ve exploded instantly!
My standout track is definitely “Say Cheese”. That’s the song that made me audibly say ‘holy shit‘ when I first heard it. The blast beats and insanely low-tuned guitars caught me off-guard, but then the absolute ferocity in her vocals blew me away. On top of that, the chorus is the typical catchy melody that she’s always been good at delivering, but it offers a nice relief from the onslaught. It even has a randomly unexpected jazzy break before erupting into an intricate breakdown. Overall, it just wasn’t the kind of track I was expecting, which made it so exciting to me.
What moments stood out to you?
D: I would totally agree on “Say Cheese”. Very menacing track, but that jazz break was also amazing, especially as it leads into that Aggretsuko-ass scream and caustic instrumentation. The disparity between the verses and chorus – both lyrically and sonically – is huge as well, basically showing what’s really on her mind (‘I’m up to my neck/Lost all self-respect/I don’t want revenge/Just want it to end‘) and what she shows on the outside (‘Everything’s going perfectly/So say cheese‘).
“Breeders” has to be my pick for favorite song though as it’s the most catchy to me and the themes of life’s cyclical pain and despair from generation to generation speak to me (‘Breed another hypocrite, breed another liar/God made you in his image, consumption and desire‘).
Poppy, and whoever’s working with her now, is more lethal now than ever with how infectious the melodies are, how frank the lyrics are, and how smoothly she can transition to that pop sensibility from wrecking ball metal attitude.
T: Agreed! “Breeders” is a really strong track, and I think it also could fit nicely with the songs on I Disagree. I think it’s interesting because the industrial element heard on some of her previous efforts isn’t as present on this EP, but I wasn’t really missing it. I think the driving intensity that’s heard in “Breeders” and “Cue” is a lot more up-front and in-your-face.
I think the fact that she started as a pop performer definitely transfers nicely into the blending of the two contrasting approaches. As someone that gets bored pretty quickly, the drastic dynamic shifts in each track grab my attention easily. I’m hoping that this is the direction she continues to move toward, especially because I was left craving a lot more. I can’t really complain though – a 14-minute surprise EP was definitely an awesome treat!
D: Yeah, on one hand, I do want more – and it’s looking like we will get more very soon with an album on the way – but I do appreciate how short and digestible EAT is just so I can loop it over and over. It’s one of the only things I’ve listened to this week. Poppy‘s gone from being out of my field of vision, to being someone I’m generally interested in, to one of the most intriguing artists I know of right now all in the span of six months which is wild.
My enjoyment of her music is twofold: first, it really makes the trve metal purist pissbabies mad, which always makes me happy (guys – and yes, it’s almost always guys – we need artists to push boundaries and make us uncomfortable in order to grow the craft; see also: BABYMETAL). Second, it’s just good. I can’t like many things solely off of spite, so it’s great to see that Poppy does her thing and does it so well, free of people that hold her back in unhealthy ways, melding together worlds in ways that still have a lot of ground to tread.
T: I cannot agree more with both of your points there, especially the first one. When she was first signed to Sumerian Records, people seemed absolutely furious. I thought it was awesome that they signed someone that didn’t fall into the typical metalcore scene, but plenty of people refuse to give her a chance since it’s ‘pop music’. I know that it’s pretty hard to change a stubborn person’s mind once its made up, but I’m realizing that the complaints about her as an artist are some of the reasons why I love her material. Also, if you’re too ‘metal’ to check out Poppy, you’re the one missing out. This music is so interesting and unique, and it’s more evidence that if you refuse to leave your ego at the door, you’re going to miss out on a ton of great music.
D: Exactly. That’s partly why Everything Is Noise exists, right? All our writers are just into music as a whole and that’s what we aim to accomplish with the stuff we cover. I used to be pretty closeminded when I was younger, but now look at me – I like Poppy and I get to talk about her and other great artists here.
Sorry, broke character for a minute there. Anyway, you can not like something, just shut the fuck up about it, and definitely don’t talk shit about it if you haven’t even given it a try yet! If you like your music heavy as hell, then try EAT out. 🙂 I think that’s all I have to say about this one. What about you, Tyler?
T: I’ll second your statement, about giving this a try. Set biases aside and get pummeled by Poppy‘s aggression on EAT. Other than that, I’ve definitely gotten my point across for my enjoyment of the EP!
D: Hell yeah, me too. Get on the metal Poppy train while you can, everyone. I get the feeling this is far from the final destination for her.
T: I definitely hope so!