I Disagree

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I Disagree Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

Starting in late 2018, pop artist and Internet personality Poppy teased a drastic stylistic shift, moving beyond the alt-pop earworms that amassed a cult following and embracing her metal-loving side. Disregarding genre restrictions, the result of that evolution, I Disagree, is a metallic storm, informed by pulsing beats, thrashing riffs, and crushing breakdowns. That fury is punctuated by atmospheric electronics and sugary vocals that support her deceptively confrontational lyrics. Liberated from a longtime creative partner and joining the Sumerian roster alongside Sleeping with Sirens and Korn's Jonathan Davis, Poppy takes the opportunity to rebrand and realign, achieving something close to authenticity in the process. Peddling a different kind of subversion, I Disagree is the natural end to a path she began on 2018's Am I a Girl?, which ended with a triplet of tracks revealing her love for nu-metal and industrial. Her commitment to this new direction is a delight, especially for like-minded listeners who dabble in both pop and metal realms. References to everything from Grimes and Madonna to Rammstein and Static-X are thrown into this melee and, while the sheer amount of sound that Poppy crams into I Disagree can be overwhelming, the payoff is a genuine thrill. Opener "Concrete" bridges her past and present by introducing thrashing guitar riffs and a massive breakdown to a shared space with kawaii J-pop vocals and warm harmonies. If one ever dreamed of hearing a collaboration featuring Babymetal, Grimes, the Beach Boys, and Slipknot, then Poppy is here to deliver. While the title track mashes post-hardcore with nu-metal, "Bloodmoney" lashes out with the album's angriest lyrics and industrial cacophony to match her rage. On that front, "Fill the Crown" teases a brief return to Robyn-esque pop before tearing it down with more industrial metal crunch and a mysterious vocalist doing his best Marilyn Manson impression. Speaking of Manson, bits of "The Beautiful People" can be heard on "Anything Like Me," a demonic kiss-off that sounds like an alternate-reality cousin of Billie Eilish's "Bury a Friend." If this first half causes whiplash with the abundance of styles and references, Poppy allows a bit of respite on Side B. As "Bite Your Teeth" pummels with a bowel-busting metalcore breakdown, gorgeous moments such as "Nothing I Need" and "Sick of the Sun" play on her love of French electronic duo Air and even some '90s dream pop. One of I Disagree's many highlights, "Sit, Stay" is Poppy's feverish collision of Grimes alt-pop, chugging techno-metal, and late-2000s new rave, a swelling dose of electroclash that sums up the album with the declaration, "Welcome to the new starting line." Wrapping up this wild ride with sweeping closer "Don't Go Outside," she summarizes memorable lines from throughout the album and reminds her devoted following that, like her, "You can be anyone you want to be." As both a symbolic avatar for her life changes and a strong empowerment statement, I Disagree celebrates Poppy's rebirth as a pop-metal alchemist and unabashed rule-breaker.

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