Review Summary: Look, no safety net!
Poppy’s career is starting to reveal a rather interesting trajectory: it seems like every odd year, in between massive(ly enjoyable) gimmicks of full length albums, she releases her best music in hyper-focused, five-track EPs. EAT
solidifies this pattern, simultaneously feeling like a natural progression of 2020’s I Disagree
and like a spiritual successor to 2019’s Choke
. Whereas the former was a campy pop-metal full length, the latter presented a brief, excellent conclusion to Poppy’s dim-brooding-Eilish-type-beat brand of pop music. Now, five new tracks have arrived to solidify her ability to craft records without relying on tacky tactics, and provide a finalised version of hevvy metal
Poppy as well as a new point of departure and potentialities.
’s most impressive accomplishment may just be that it affords itself no safety net of memery to fall back on. Whereas previous projects would appear to music for meme’s sake, these five tracks only occasionally meme for music’s sake, with the rest of the time being dedicated to music-ing for music’s sake. There’s still plenty of, eh, oddities to be found in Poppy’s lyricism: ‘Breeders’ excellent chorus employs the notion of ‘mouth breathers’ to capitalise on consumerism and hypocrisy, rhymes it with ‘feeders’... and fully gets away with it. Hell, it is easily one of her strongest choruses to date. Similarly, ‘CUE’ is one of the most straightforward depictions of the world in its current state, simply listing all that is wrong before erupting into cries of “We’ll march to the end of the world / We’ll march to the end of everything
”. Remarkably, it more than suffices and accomplishes what it sets out to do. A few projects ago, such lyrics would have been delivered with a snarky sense of playfulness (‘Time Is Up’, ‘Concrete’), Poppy appears self aware enough to know that there is no need for that now: reality has become enough of a joke.
This self awareness is aided both by Poppy’s voice and the way it has been utilised throughout her career. In the music, her voice has never been the gimmick; the words and guitars, bleeps and bloops completed the memez while Poppy focused on making everything pleasantly listenable, occasionally aiding comical jabs by aiming for different octaves. On EAT
she sings like before and screams like never before. While her ear-piercing yells could easily have been overused to the extent of being nothing but a minor novelty, every aspect of the EP’s vocal department is balanced perfectly and only used to optimise the music’s impact. ‘EAT’ complements a driving chorus with tortured screams and spoken sections, effectively evoking its imagery of the destructive nature of eating disorders and subsequent declining mental health. ‘Say Cheese’ pulls similar punches, with its blistering first minute contrasting an angelic chorus in a way that can only be described as a more elegant version of I Disagree
’s main trick. Instead of opting for the ‘hey, look, it’s pretty wild when we do really soft after really heavy lol’-route, the shifts feel more natural here; everything is geared towards benefitting the music’s overall impact.
In essence, EAT
is five intense songs of Poppy’s very best material with a fraction of the memes and ten times the effective songwriting. From the firing of a more-than-questionable creative partner to this EP being the WWE NXT soundtrack, the artist’s future is looking bright. Where she'll go from here is anyone's guess, but if these songs are any indication, it should be a reasonably good time. Even if the future is bound to include more unnecessary projects such as last year’s “noise” record, Poppy forging her own path, oddly enough, seems like one of the most intriguing things in heavy music as of right now. She screm for real now, yay!