Flux acts as a powerful shock wave. Poppy reinvents again her formula in a tribute to the Alternative Rock
Poppy is the kind of story you enjoy when you discover such a sin-guliar artist. For those of you who don't know her yet, Moriah Rose Pereira became Poppy, a viral YouTube artist before she started to make her mark in music. Poppy is the archetypal icon of our time, that is to say, ultra-versatile, taking advantage of new technologies and means of expression to make her a public figure of pop culture. If I insist on this, it's because I'm basically impressed by this kind of path. This self-taught way of proposing artistic content or entertainment for a public always looking for something new is finally a real boon for our culture. Anyway, let's close the parenthesis. Flux announces the new return of the artist with a musical style without borders with a concise and punchy album as she likes to do. The Grammy nominee following the album I Disagree (2020) does not cease for the moment to prove her progression from project to project, wondering precisely what her limits will be.
Flux is an album of containment as it was reflected during the pandemic. As for many albums of this context, Flux is more personal and intimate as if the author had let herself be guided by spontaneous feelings, by introspection and all the emotions/feelings lived during this period. It is already a positive point, since it allows us to discover more about an icon as sulphurous as mystical. Basically, Flux is the image of the hyper activity of its author, that is to say a direct, lively and new content on every point if we compare to the previous works. After an Electropop attempt on Am I A Girl (2018), a 380° Metal turn on I Disagree and EAT (NXT Soundtrack) (2020), Flux also proposes new perspectives with a more Alternative Rock/Grunge style even if of course the eclectic versatility of its author remains as dominant as ever. It's a bit like an indie version of Poppy. This faculty to always leave a comfort zone is something really appreciable, since one is never safe from a surprise with Poppy.
On the other hand, Flux is the most accessible album of her discography because it is conventional on several points. Gone are the deliriums and the omnipresent screams, each song is a photo conform of a traditional construction, which allows to test Poppy's ability to deliver catchy "pop" songs. Each song acts like a grenade, a pure dose of ener-gy. For this, Poppy surrounds herself with a new producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Nelly Furtado, Tori Amos or Air) and opts for a more intimate and real production, moving away from the conventional techniques of a proper studio. Influenced by the 90's, the eponymous song Flux delivers the soundscapes that we will find in the album, that is to say a particularly energetic content, oppressive by the use of industrial sounds or by the Noise Pop and also this constant will to try to be the most melodic possible. On 5 minutes, Flux is a successful song from beginning to end, especially because its con-struction emerges you in the trashy but poignant atmosphere of its author to deliver all the emotions.
Certainly Poppy doesn't invent anything, Flux is not as adventurous as I Disagree, but it's a very good half hour that reconciles the new generation and the older ones. Lessen The Damage continues to explore the sounds of the early 90's, when Metal was trying to keep its leadership against the wave of alternative and fusion, especially with hip hop. On the other hand if everything works well, nothing is extraordinary either (except Her). So Mean sounds like a sweeter version of this new formula and this is what gives it this endearing side. We have the impression to listen to a modern and feminine version of Green Day, period Dookie, as if finally the need to express for Poppy her youthful soul and her vision of the life. In So Mean, Poppy exorcises her past demons that led her to have a bad state of mind, which explains how this song sounds like a liberation. On The Level sets the tone of a fair balance, it sounds like a watered down version of Kim Deal from the Breeders, but that's not a negative.
After a convincing first part of the album without really shining, Flux takes another di-mension with Hysteria. For the blow, we return to the origin of the Alternative Rock and the Noise in the 80s with a strong tribute to this time. Buzzing drum machines with spar-kling synthesizers come to clash in order to propose an absolutely contagious retro bubble. Poppy is so comfortable that she embraces the instrumentation with ease, she even flies over it. Not to mention the construction of this breathtaking song that offers a gradually more aggressive crescendo. Her has become my favorite song of Poppy's repertoire, because I find that she manages to capture all the essence of its author, while offering a perfect version from start to finish. In just 2 minutes, Poppy unleashes a truly sensational emotional power. In constant suspension, Bloom leans on Shoegaze to take flight on the choruses. Again the end is neat to close in beauty with this rise of synths in background.
And it is not finished because the album continues its very good dynamics. Finally we quickly realize that the best songs are mostly strewn with keyboards and this clairvoyant atmosphere As Strange As It Seems is another hypnotic ballad, almost Dream Pop finally. The outroduction Never Find My Place extends this more surreal journey, but it also aims to defuse the whole. To conclude on my analysis, I will say that I prefer Flux to his previous one, because first of all it's an album that speaks to me more musically, but also because I think it's more successful as a whole. The new production is very good and refreshing, the writing work of Simon Wilcox is satisfying, the album gets stronger as it evolves. I also like this fast and smooth format. And I have to admit that Poppy is progressing, in the sense that this is the 3rd time she changes her musical palette and it still works. For the moment I have a hard time seeing any long term limits, even if there are some, because maybe with more maturity and experience she will manage to surprise us even more.