As a pop artist who has gained most of their fame via their Youtube channel, Poppy is not someone I had high expectations for when it came to music. Their first album (following their self-released, ambient album, 3:36 (Music to Sleep to) (2016)), Poppy.Computer (2017), was about what I expected; a decent release, but nothing incredible or noteworthy. Their synth-pop sound was more unique than some, but it still wasn’t impressive, and didn’t alter my overall view of them as a musician.
However, this changed with their most recent release, Am I a Girl? (2018). The production quality was incredibly crisp, and it began to explore more themes and aesthetics. While it probably didn’t make much sense to people unaware of their character; each song was able to give more and more context to Poppy, and who they are. It also got darker and darker throughout the album, providing more diversity to their sound. It began where Poppy left off in their first release, but slowly devolved into a Baby Metal-esque sound, with lots of heavy guitars and doom-filled topics. Overall, it was a surprisingly solid release and honestly one of my favorite from 2018.
Poppy wasted no time, following up their October album with a new single at the tail-end of January. And just like their last album picked up from Poppy.Computer, this single picks up where Am I a Girl? ends; continuing the much darker tones they started to develop in their last album. They even make direct references to their last song, “X”, with the lyrics “There’s blood on my necklace/And blood on my clothes;” playing off of the “Get me, get me bloody, please get me bloody,” from the older song’s chorus.
Of course, the lyricism isn’t the only way Poppy builds from their latest album. The heavy sound also carries on to “Voicemail;” only this time, instead of metal guitars, they use a blasting bass beat, and unsettling electronic noises to make it both abrasive and eerie. Certain parts of the instrumental I would honestly expect from a Death Grips release; and in fact, I believe a few portions of it have been used in previous Death Grips songs. One example can be found in the descending, high-pitched instrumental that’s featured behind the lines “Runnin’, I’m runnin’, I’m runnin’.”
A few more clever tidbits exist within the song; such as the juxtaposing ideas of “Poppy wants to come home to daddy,” and “Poppy is your mommy.” The idea of them being a child of the system, as well as an overlord were both explored in their last release, and it seems they will continue to develop them as time goes on.
Wholistically, this single provides a continuation of the concepts and aesthetics investigated in their last release, Am I a Girl?. But as it extends these previously-introduced areas, it provides yet another musical style to their repertoire. Poppy found yet another way to make their audience unsettled. All of these things make me excited for what’s to come next in their discography; musically, lyrically, and thematically. I’m interested in how Poppy continues their character development, as it seems they’re currently spiraling into a scary, and deep insanity.