Review Summary: Honestly, I don't even know what to say at this point.
Before I begin this review, I want to give a little disclaimer. When trying to put my thoughts down about this record, I found it almost impossible to strike the editorial tone that genuinely good
reviews take. A lot can be said about the subjective and objective dimensions of art, and without getting too esoteric here, Poppy
's music situates itself firmly in the middle of this unsolvable debate. This album is utterly bewildering, and in an objective sense, I can easily point to flaws and weak points, but I still think there's value in trying to explain why subjectively speaking, this album might be one of my favourite, truly bizarre, contributions to metal and rock music. So, without further ado...
Slipknot, Code Orange, Marilyn Manson.
All of these artists have some things in common. The same could be said of Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and Grimes
. But through Poppy
, a boundary that nobody really wanted crossing has been crossed. From the opening track, this record primes you to have absolutely no idea what to come next, and in this sense, 'Concrete' is an absolutely emphatic way of introducing this tone. Bouncing between almost Power Metal-ish duelling guitars, bubblegum tween pop and what can only be described as an utterly filthy
breakdown emerging out of nowhere, this opener doesn't make sense. Nothing about I Disagree
does, come to think of it.
By blending an utterly headache inducing mix of genres, this album should be a messy, nigh-on unlistenable mess, and Poppy refuses to stop throwing incoherent curveballs at the listener through the tracklist. The title track indulges in more bubblegum/nu-metal fusion, with it's radio metal-esque stomp a really infectious, if not entirely original melodic hook. 'BLOODMONEY' veers down the path of industrial-tinged noisiness, with a gorgeously harmonised hook that showcases Poppy's genuine knack to squeeze earworms into tracks that are at times, aesthetic car crashes. 'Anything Like Me' feels like Gen Z's answer to Marilyn Manson's 'The Beautiful People', fully outfitted with it's own driving percussive ostinato, jump-the-f**k-up guitar riff, and whispered vocal performance, but for whatever reason, its an intriguing retreading of familiar territory.
as a record isn't just weird fusions of nu metal with whatever Poppy felt like mixing in, though. Remnants of her earlier output remain in more than just fleeting interludes. 'Nothing I Need' is a delicate, hyper-sugary dreampop breath of fresh air, that's again far from original, but does at least provide a song that makes sense, even if it feels a little out of place in an album so insistent at throwing utterly unexpected sucker punches out at random intervals. 'Sick of the Sun' wouldn't feel overly out of place on a DIIV
record, a dense, moody shoegaze track much more typical of Poppy's back catalogue. 'Don't Go Outside' has shades of, and yes, I'm really saying this, Mastodon
, in its almost proggy song construction, not a million miles from 2017's A Cold Dark Place
What you might be wondering at this point, dear reader, is "sorry, in what way is this album deserving of a 4/5? How does any of this work, as individual songs, let alone as an entire full length record?". And honestly, it's hard to articulate why this album just works for me, and seemingly for a lot of other people too. This is made harder by the fact that there are just as many willing to label the record as a conceptually muddled, shallow attempt at a westernised iteration of Babymetal
, a criticism that's really not that unreasonable to make. But one track from this record made me fall absolutely, utterly in love with it, in spite of it's flaws. Hardly the most polished song on the record, 'Bite Your Teeth' typifies why Poppy is such a stupidly fun artist to listen to. The song itself sounds like someone took Slipknot's The Subliminal Verses
, let Grimes do vocals on it, and threw in some weird K-pop adjacent interludes. The song then ends with a breakdown that could almost be a sample of The Acacia Strain
's 'Tactical Nuke'. This shouldn't work, but if you turn off that cynical part of your brain that wants something intelligent, and just buy in to the fun of something so meatheadedly stupid, all of a sudden Poppy starts making sense.
I know this isn't a great review, and I know this isn't a fantastic album, truth be told. At first glance, it's a blend of a lot of fairly surface-level elements of a lot of different genres, tied together by some really odd lyrics, and just enough tonal continuity to make the album an actual album, and not just a weird collection of songs that don't make very much sense together. But with metal, rock and pop at perpetual risk of stagnating, albums like this one come to be better than the sum of their parts. By battering down genre barriers, showing utter disregard for which dead trends really don't need resurrecting, and keeping her eyes so firmly locked on the fourth wall that the stare begins to feel just a little uncomfortable, Poppy has made something unabashedly great. This is a metal album for the post-ironic generation, one so lacking in a target audience, so willing to just do whatever it wants, that even if you hate what's happening on I Disagree
, the lack of f**ks it gives at least deserves a little respect.
It's the musical equivalent of a meme without bottom text: there's no reason to find it entertaining, but I'm still sending it to all my friends with a stupid grin plastered to my face.