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Poppy - Flux (Album Review)

Friday, 01 October 2021 Written by Emma Wilkes

Photo: Frank Ockenfels III

Poppy couldn’t have chosen a better title for her fourth album. If one word can precisely sum up her shifting artistry, with every album so radically different from the one that came before, ‘Flux’ is more than appropriate. 

It’s an equally apt descriptor for a release as subversive as this, one capable of being both angular and melodic, heavy and soft, sometimes at the same time. Poppy covers as much ground in just over half an hour as other artists might on records twice the length and her output is gloriously unpredictable. 

Speaking of unpredictable, the shift towards grunge here certainly couldn’t have been anticipated during her pop-oriented beginnings, and even less so as a follow up to the abrasive industrial sound of last year’s ‘I Disagree’. 

It is not, however, an attempt to exhume the ‘90s from its grave, but is instead a genuinely refreshing and modern take on the genre. Lead singles Her and Flux excel with their deep grooves, hooks and gritty guitars, while their wry and subtly feminist lyrics are original and impressive.

Still, Poppy hasn’t totally abandoned the scuzzy metal sensibilities of ‘I Disagree’, and the traces of her former sound tangled around her new fixations truly elevate this record. The punky Lessen The Damage is catchy and fun enough as is, but the EQ-drenched screams of “Leave her, don’t touch her / Let me be the one to destruct her,” add a pleasantly aggressive twist. 

These heavier moments frequently arrive from nowhere, particularly the metallic shredding on the mostly chilled On The Level and the djent-esque guitar buzz of the sparse ballad Never Find My Place. The sense of whiplash this delivers doesn’t feel jarring, though. It’s more like a series of fun shocks that prick the ears up.  

If there is any complaint to be made about ‘Flux’, it is the way Poppy occasionally falters when attempting to build catchiness into a chorus. The saccharine hook of So Mean is repetitive to the point of irritation, and Bloom is also guilty of the same crime. Nevertheless, these are small blemishes on what is otherwise a consistently surprising, varied and intriguing record.

Poppy Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon January 10 2022 - BRISTOL Marble Factory
Tue January 11 2022 - GLASGOW SWG3 Galvanizers
Thu January 13 2022 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Fri January 14 2022 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Sat January 15 2022 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

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