‘Poppy.Computer’ album review
By Joshua Toevs, Contributor
Poppy.Computer is the feature-length debut from UK singer Poppy, following her 2016 EP Bubblebath. On that EP, Poppy was abrasive and brash instrumentally while opposing that tone with her sugary sweet melodies. While Bubblebath was interesting and fresh, Poppy.Computer feels uninspired and relatively uneventful.
On a positive side, there are a handful of interesting songs on this record. “I’m Poppy” features 16-bit video game music incorporating samples from games like Super Mario World. The song has a cult-like message with Poppy explaining how to be just like her. Her cult following uses a demonic vocal change that really heightens the creepiness. The overall feel of this song is eclectic, with the vocal glitches on the track adding a lot of substance. “Computer Boy,” while plain in its computer age production with industrial noises and off-kilter scratches, is very smart lyrically. It is a song about finding love over the internet, which is something you rarely hear touched upon on a song in any genre. Sexual innuendos abound on this track (“I want your floppy disk to be my hard drive”), which adds to the quirkiness and silliness of the overall song.
“Interweb” is the antithesis of “Computer Boy.” The song lyrically is a bit flat and dull, describing the use of the Interweb to talk about trapping someone in her love web both in real life and on the Internet. Where the song is light lyrically, the production is dense and surprising. Poppy’s melodies and vocal cadence are flawless, resulting in a really fun pop bop. Personally, I’d say “Moshi Moshi” is the standout cut on the album. With its cute piano K-pop piano loop mixed with shimmering and tingly hi-hats, the production is light-years better than anything else on the album. Poppy’s sweet vocals and lyrics about spending time with her best friend help make this is a near perfect song.
Unfortunately for this album, the lowlights outweigh the highlights. “Software Upgrade” is off-putting in the sense that Poppy thinks there is something wrong with a guy because he simply isn’t into her and she equates that to him potentially being gay. It feels unnecessary as a whole. Songs like “Let’s Make a Video” and “Beach Blonde Baby” are just terribly average and uninspiring, making a fifth of the album completely forgettable. Where those two tracks add nothing new to the pop sound, both “My Microphone” and “Pop Music” try to stand out, but they do so for all the wrong reasons. That latter is a cheesy acoustic ballad with oddly pitched vocals and such boring lyrics that it sounds like a knockoff Taylor Swift love song. The former uses what sounds like a generic guitar solo sample from GarageBand. It is so forced and simple that it becomes nauseating to get through.
Overall this album is a misstep in execution. Poppy’s sound and style was fresh three years ago, but now artists like Kero Kero Bonito and FKA Twigs have merged in her lane and eclipsed Poppy in the process. This album comes off as boring. Even at its strangest, the production feels very restrained, as if Poppy is scared to showcase her true self on a debut album as to not scare new people away from her sound. At the end of the day, Poppy’s persona and ideas outshine the actual product.