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Flux Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

With a title like Flux, listeners might expect yet another whiplash rollercoaster ride of sonic shifts and genre explosions from the artist known as Poppy. However, in typical fashion, she subverts expectations by delivering her tightest, most cohesive vision yet. A straightforward rock record, Flux is less glorious hodgepodge and more songwriting-focused, opting for craft over ideas. While those changes make the set less of a thrill than Am I a Girl? or I Disagree, album number four opens a new lane of possibility for Poppy and her band. Produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen (St. Vincent, Nine Inch Nails), Flux benefits from an authentic, almost nostalgic '90s feel, as the grunge, punk, and metal stylings were all recorded live and straight-to-tape. This is the sound of a rock band firing on all cylinders, and not just a singular mastermind in a lab. Short and sweet, the album careens from explosive NIN-lite, industro-pop on the title track -- which is packed with hard-charging riffs, pummeling percussion, lurching bass, and Poppy's trademark angelic cooing and deadly wailing -- to breakneck Nirvana-styled punk on the raging "Lessen the Damage." "So Mean" blends melodic power pop with bouncy pop-punk, while "Hysteria" channels Sonic Youth and the Cure for an alt-rock bop. Poppy even tries her hand at shoegaze, delivering a spaced-out highlight with the atmospheric "As Strange as It Seems." The consistency and dedication to a singular lane is admirable considering her past work, but the clearest sign of her evolution arrives with closer "Never Find My Place," an electrifying epic that boosts her artistry with restraint, a deep well of emotion, and a show-stopping, Muse-worthy guitar breakdown. Even though it's not as stylistically wild as prior efforts, Flux is a step forward for Poppy's songwriting and her ability to command a full band. No longer just the girl in the computer, she's become a fully realized human with this most authentic and earnest work.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Poppy 05:00 Amazon
Poppy 02:21 Amazon
Poppy 02:56 Amazon
Poppy 03:25 Amazon
Poppy 04:20 Amazon
Poppy 02:08 Amazon
Poppy 03:50 Amazon
Poppy 04:05 Amazon
Poppy 04:02 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick