POPPY — I Disagree (review)

POPPY — I Disagree album cover Album · 2020 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
0.5/5 ·
666sharon666
Here are two facts about myself: I'm female and I'm a massive fan of metal music. Once upon a time that would have openly been considered a paradox, but fortunately we've moved on somewhat. Not enough, but progress has been made; in 2020 being a girl and into this kind of music really isn't noteworthy. There are many women now performing in major metal bands in a variety of roles and sub-genres and more women are attending metal gigs (or we would be if not for that little bastard known as Covid-19). There are also some female musicians who have become notable for starting their careers in other genres before making the jump to metal. The 2010s saw Amalie Bruun go from various indie pop outfits to atmospheric black metal as Myrkur. Chelsea Wolfe released a doom metal album and started the sludge metal/noise rock act Mrs Piss. And Rose Kemp went from psychedelic/folk music to doom metal.

Enter Poppy.

What can we say about Poppy? Well, she's followed a similar route having made a name performing electro-pop styles, but for her third studio album I Disagree has made the jump to alternative metal. That's where the similarities in these stories end. You see, Poppy's I Disagree doesn't necessarily sound like the work of an artist who decided to embrace a love of metal the way someone like Myrkur did. Instead it sounds like the work of a hipster pop artist who decided to add some heavy guitars to her sound for the purpose being ironic without caring an iota about how the result may be perceived as a metal album. And that result is what may just be the most offensive metal album to female metalheads ever created and the stupid thing is if my suspicions are right about what Poppy was actually going for with I Disagree then she probably will never have a clue about why that is.

Let's add some context, the rarely spoken about female experience of being a metalhead. Like in many walks of life, women into metal have had to put up with a lot of unacceptable crap from men who half the time probably don't even realise they're doing it. Actually not just men, but other women who don't like metal as well can actually be just as bad or at least bloody judgemental toward a woman who listens to metal. As a female headbanger I have often found myself on the receiving end of the assumption that when I speak about metal that I don't know what I'm talking about, never mind that my Dad practically raised me on a diet of classic 70s and 80s metal and hard rock bands. There was even a meme posted here on Metal Music Archives once with the words 'When a girl says she likes heavy music' picturing Slayer as 'what you hope for' and Nickelback as 'what she means'.

And that's just the start of the shit we have to deal with, especially in the online context which for many metalheads regardless of gender is often the only place we get to actually discuss the music we love with like-minded people. Online I have been accused more than once of not being a girl, but a G.I.R.L. which you internet savvy folks will know stands for Guy in Real Life. One guy even went so far that in my early days on YouTube took it upon himself to actually make a video about me and how I was a 'sock account'. This was after I wouldn't agree with his opinion on something so trivial I no longer even remember what it was.

Does anyone realise just how fucking offensive that is? And this is not to mention the situation at gigs. It was more of a problem a few years ago, but still, I've had to put up with people assuming I'm just someone's girlfriend dragged along against her will or that I'm just there to be provocative to guys. In fact I was even sexually assaulted at a gig once by some drunk arsehole which ultimately resulted in me getting kicked out by a bouncer after I defended myself.

What does this have to do with Poppy and her first (and please God let it be her only) metal album I Disagree? Because this kind of thing is how historically women in and into metal have been perceived and treated and I Disagree sets all kinds of wrong impression. Even before we hear a single note of music we have that atrocious cover where it looks like Poppy got done up in corpse paint (complete with a spiked collar), but then you'll notice it's actually just a bad Photoshop job hiding that she really doesn't look 'metal' at all. And that's a problem in that looking metal really doesn't matter to actual metalheads. Akercocke wore tweed suits for crying out loud. Image is the selling point of the pop album. But they say a picture is worth a thousand words and true to form the cover art actually gives a glimpse at the kind of music that will be found within. Not black metal, but basically what Poppy must have been doing before dressed up as metal, just like she is on the cover. That's not a very good image to set for women in metal. It reaffirms the kind of crap people expect of a girl when she says she likes metal.

Everything about the album screams wrong when trying to listen to it as a metal album. The really heavy guitars in the opener Concrete are nice, but everything else about that song made me just switch the album off in disgust on my first attempt to listen to it, with Poppy mixing those heavy riffs with sunshine pop vocals. You may as well just listen to an actual novelty act like Babymetal if you want your metal to sound cute. Personally it makes me want to go barf up my lunch.

And it really doesn't get any better across its ten songs, if anything it instead gets worse, such as at any point that Poppy abandons her pop singing for rapping, where she manages to sound like a petulant child about to throw a major tantrum rather than anything remotely close to convincing. The more bearable parts are where she drops all the pretences of being a metal album and the heavy guitars are removed, but that just leaves us with with various elements pop, electro, dance and hip-hop, which after you scratch its surface is what you're left with across the whole release. There's precious little actual metal that's anything more than vapid and generic stuff playing a supporting role in her sound. Of course metal does mix well with other genres and it's the other elements that often raise an otherwise standard sounding release up, but that's not the case here. Maybe it works form the point of view of any of the other genres she has in the mix, I won't speak for that as that is not music I care for, but as a metal album I Disagree may just be the worst thing I've ever heard.

Poppy represents a popular artist who genuinely could have introduced metal to people who wouldn't have given it the time of day before this for no other reason than its metal and as the narrow minded have taken time out of their busy days to remind me before, metal is 'evil, unfeminine and just a load of noise'. The majority of people hearing her go metal will be in this group (the rest will be existing metalheads like me who got curious without thinking about what killed the cat). This is not a good album to give newcomers an impression of what metal sounds like. It is not even a good album to get an impression of what alternative/nu metal sounds like because frankly it makes me want to shout for the dreaded Limp Bizkit to come back because all is forgiven.

On an earlier album Poppy posed the question Am I a Girl? Well Poppy I don't know what you decided, whether you're a girl, a boy, the kitchen sink or a toaster, but you sure as hell made a beyond awful album to judge women in metal by with this piece of work. We're in an age where female musicians in metal are becoming more plentiful and recognised for their work, not just as eye candy. I Disagree is far from representative of female achievement in the genre and yet this will likely be the most heard album from a female solo artist in metal in 2020. Maybe even the most heard metal album. And that sucks for the genre as a whole, not just the women who are embarrassed by this perversion of an album (because I sure as hell hope I'm not the only one).

Now that I've got off my chest how it makes me feel, I'm going to do my damnedest to pretend this album doesn't exist.
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adg211288 wrote:
6 days ago
I always have thought that artists were the worst people to describe what they actually play but post-genre is a new one on me.
666sharon666 wrote:
7 days ago
Well that makes some sense given my impression of the album as described in my second paragraph. Although if that's the case then she really is trying even harder than I thought with that cover image.
7 days ago
Hmm, apparently she doesn't consider this metal herself. I feel like that's the go to line every time someone releases something that obviously is metal but they know many are going to hate. Almost like they're they're trying to put a wall up against criticism from that side of things from the start.

Actually the term she uses for this is 'post-genre'. Sounds really fucking pretentious to me.

7 days ago
My Bell Witch review was a 0.5 and a then new album that others were gushing over. 6 comments. Perhaps the difference is that before this review popped up most of us, me included, hadn't heard this.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
7 days ago
Damn wish we could edit these comments. I meant to say IT CAN BE THE OFFICIAL POPPY HATE CLUB. Personally i haven't listened to her but perhaps i should just to know what all this is about :/
siLLy puPPy wrote:
7 days ago
Well let's keep this going! I can be the official Poppy hate club LOL
Tupan wrote:
7 days ago
@Unitron I did listen, don't like it very much but I've added the videos!
adg211288 wrote:
7 days ago
If we had an official timeline, it would be. I'm pretty sure 83 comments is a site record.
7 days ago
Is that an official point in MMA history? The Great Shitstorm of 2012?
adg211288 wrote:
7 days ago
This is nothing compared to the Great Shitstorm of 2012 when Wilytank reviewed Haken's Aquarius. I think that's still the one to beat for comments posted. 83. Unless anyone knows different and I've forgotten.
Unitron wrote:
8 days ago
lol someone listened to Velcra after I mentioned them based on the videos added!

I think similar happened with this as my old Elder review (which I honestly don't like that review, I should've just turned it off and asked for a different album. I still hate everything about that album though). Older albums, especially ones regarded as classics, don't tend to instil much of a reaction. They've been out long enough for people to already have listened to and have solid opinions on it. Unless it's someone's all time favorite album, it's just kind of whatever. New albums are fresh in everyone's mind but haven't had the time to reach everyone, and unfortunately negativity is more popular than positivity when it comes to music in general.

adg211288 wrote:
8 days ago
Now that you mention it, my Pain of Salvation review didn't get half this much attention and I was under the impression that The Perfect Element was one of those albums that must not be bashed on pain of death, especially on a site that was spun off from Prog Archives. I was honestly expected some heated comments for that day's work.
666sharon666 wrote:
8 days ago
I'll believe that just as soon as anything that isn't Filosofem permanently unseats it as RYM's top black metal album. As an entire genre metalheads do tend to put a lot of emphasis on historical importance. That very much includes Varg.
8 days ago
That's because it's Burzum and it's been a lot of years since anyone really gave much of a shit about Varg.
666sharon666 wrote:
8 days ago
You say that but my negative Burzum review only got 3 comments and surely saying Filosofem is a load of crap is more controversial than giving a 0.5 to Poppy?
adg211288 wrote:
8 days ago
'It does seem that these negative reviews get the most comments!'

They really do. We don't see many reviews rated at the real lower end of the scale here so they stand out. As Mornium said it's 'the curse of a negative review'.

I don't know how many five star reviews I've seen here that get absolutely no reaction.

8 days ago
I'll say for thing for her, she can sure make some really messed up lyrics sound all sunshine and roses.
666sharon666 wrote:
8 days ago
I won't speak for her talent if you look at it from the perspective of all the other stuff she's throwing into this, but the bottom line is this is a review for a metal website and as a metal album this is extremely lacking even without it/her winding me completely the wrong way.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
8 days ago
It does seem that these negative reviews get the most comments! There are lots of talented ladies out there in metal and other genres but this doesn't seem to be one of them from what i've been reading.
Tupan wrote:
8 days ago
I couldn't resist... And didn't like it. Garbage, to be honest. I think it must have some appeal for Babymetal fans.
Nightfly wrote:
8 days ago
Been trying to listen to this and strangely my Spotify keeps freezing every few bars.Clearly I am blessed.
Psydye wrote:
8 days ago
It's 2020 and there are still plenty of misogynistic shitheads who think women are only good for their sex drive. Sad.
Vim Fuego wrote:
9 days ago
@Mornium Join the club...
9 days ago
I dared.

It sucked.

I must be a glutton for punishment.

666sharon666 wrote:
9 days ago
@voila_la_scorie, thanks. Obviously the majority of metalheads are all great people and that includes everyone here - I did make a reference to something posted on MMA in the review, but that was posted by a member who went on to get banned (for unrelated reasons). Unfortunately like with everything there are a few who let the side down.
666sharon666 wrote:
9 days ago
@Mornium: I wouldn't recommend it but who knows, maybe something will just click for you where it just made me (perhaps unreasonably) angry.
9 days ago
To listen or not to listen, that is the question...do I dare?
9 days ago
I love a good half star review. The ire. The angst. The irritation. This was a fun review to read except for that you had to put up with so much rubbish from dickheads.

I heard part of a song in a video for this album and I was like, "Baby Metal just got copied by an entry level reject."

9 days ago
Now here's the curse of a negative review - I now find my interest piqued more than it would have been otherwise.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
9 days ago
Nice rant! I'm sure your review is much more entertaining than the album itself! But then again i've never been drawn to experience the world of Poppy :D
9 days ago
I've purposesly avoided this but I can relate to so much about what you said about being a female metalhead. Great review.
adg211288 wrote:
9 days ago
I made it three tracks in a while back and stopped.
Tupan wrote:
9 days ago
It was a interesting reading and a great review. Unlike Patrick, i don't want to check this out, though.
Vim Fuego wrote:
9 days ago
Yeah, nah. What a fucking shower of shit.
Vim Fuego wrote:
9 days ago
I have read really mixed reviews of this. I really want to check it out now, just to see how bad of a trainwreck it is.
Unitron wrote:
10 days ago
I find it ironic that you criticize Poppy's switch to metal for the same reasons many criticized Myrkur for (I didn't, but regardless). Especially considering that unlike black metal, alternative metal and especially nu metal are still scorned among not only many metal circles but pretty much every online music community and there's still many elitists that try and claim that it isn't even metal. If anything, that just tells me that she's not trying to just hop on a hipster bandwagon.

I don't love or even really like this album a lot, in fact I don't like the J-pop sounding moments at all and think the songwriting's really inconsistent, but I think there's promise and with some refinement she could make something really good. Like something along the lines of a band like Velcra, who had a well-combined blend of metal, pop, hip hop, and various electronic styles.

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