Poppy, born Moriah Periera, has been one of my favorite artists since she released her 2016 EP “Bubblebath.” Over the years she transitioned from a pop singer with “Bubblebath,” to a metal artist with her 2021 release “Flux.” Now, Poppy seemingly went back to pop with her Oct. 27 release of her fifth album, “Zig.” As a major Poppy fan, or a “Poppyseed,” I was very excited for the album’s release. However, I was kind of let down during my first listen.
With her recent singles from the album such as “Church Outfit” and “Knockoff,” I knew the album was going to be more pop-focused compared to her last album. However, I was not expecting it to affect the quality of her work. Normally, she nails every song she puts out, but with songs such as the title track “Zig,” I was left scratching my head. The song felt disorienting, unfocused and unfinished. This led me to my first major issue with the album—the length.
“Zig” has a whopping length of roughly…30 minutes. This is incredibly shocking as the album has 11 tracks. For comparison, her last album “Flux” had a length of 32 minutes with just nine tracks. This length makes some songs feel shorter than they should be. For instance, “Hard” is a song that builds up to the end when Poppy begins screaming at the end of the song, but out of nowhere it is cut short with an unfulfilling ending.
The mixing in the album is also an issue as well. It seems as though Poppy was trying to go for a distorted effect on her voice, but at times it feels like she is speaking through a tin can. The song “Motorbike” feels like it should be a loud and powerful dance song, but the mixing in the song makes Poppy’s voice not only quieter than the instrumental, but also hard to understand. It can also be seen on the song “Prove It,” yet another song that could be great if not for the lackluster mixing.
I am not going to spend the whole review complaining as the album is still decent. In fact, the good songs on the album are not just good, they are great. My favorite song, “The Attic,” sees Poppy exploring a whole new genre by playing with drum and bass. Her lyricism has also improved, despite how difficult it can be to hear her soft voice at times. One of my favorite lyrics is present in the song “Linger” where Poppy touches on the feeling of obsession. The chorus says, “At the night’s edge, you know that I’ll follow/Anywhere your blood flows red,/I’ll make you just like me/And you let it linger, linger, linger.” To me, the metaphors and imagery present in the album show her growth as an artist overall.
Another stand out track is the song “Church Outfit,” the first single for the album. I enjoyed this song as it is the one metal song on “Zig.” It makes an excellent album opener because it mixes industrial pop with metal guitar riffs and screams. Perhaps it is a sendoff to the Metal Poppy I knew, or maybe it is a reminder that she will always dabble with the genre. For some reason she tends to be best when she contrasts her cutesy image with dark lyrics such as “This is the dress I want to be buried in” that are seen in “Church Outfit.”
Yet even with the songs being good, something just feels like it is missing. Perhaps it could be a result of the short tracklist, the poor mixing or maybe Poppy has just finally reached a slump in her artistic career. In “Hard,” Poppy may say “Only shoot to hit the mark, shoot to hit the mark,” but here, she narrowly missed it.