Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Poppy continues shapeshifting on dance floor embracing Zig


Release date: 27 October 2023
Poppy Zig cover
24 October 2023, 09:00 Written by Alex Nguyen

You could say Zig is a fitting name for this album, the latest example of an artistic vision taking a step forward while simultaneously changing direction.

Ever since her debut, 2017's bubblegum pop-soaked Poppy.Computer, Poppy – real name is Moriah Rose Pereira – has undergone one transformation after another, refusing to be boxed into any single lane. Just a year later, the latter half of her sophomore effort, Am I a Girl?, mixed in nu-metal influences, paving the way for 2020’s I Disagree to go full-on alternative metal. Her most recent full-length project, 2021's Flux, was an ode to 90s alternative rock and even threw in some shoegaze. She’s achieved all of this without relying on nostalgia, instead embodying the spirit and style of each genre that takes her interest and interpreting it in her own way.

Zig sees Poppy return to dance, which she had started pursuing as a child and continued until her YouTube and music careers took off. With the help of producer Ali Payami (Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd), the album’s varied instrumentation is its greatest strength. “What It Becomes” is an ominous, cello-driven ballad with a gradual crescendo that meshes well with its lyrical theme. “The Attic” features fleet-footed drum and bass that serves as a solid foundation for Poppy’s effect-laden falsetto vocals. Its inclusion of strings and synths is effective in creating a euphoric ending. Another highlight is “Linger,” whose vocal tune on the chorus is reminiscent of the aforementioned The Weeknd and surprising transitions from acoustic guitar to atmospheric dance beats somehow work together.

Lyrically, the LP navigates Poppy’s life experiences two years after the end of her heavily discussed toxic relationship that 2022's EP Stagger explored. She seems to be in the process of figuring out how to build a loving relationship. On “What It Becomes,” she may be talking to an ex, singing, “Whoever you think you’re saving / One day you’ll see it won’t be me,” while “The Attic” could probe her uncertainty – “Would it be okay to take it slow / Just tell me if you don’t want me here.” Although she is vulnerable on many tracks, she also displays her confidence on songs like the single “Motorbike,” a catchy dance-pop cut that reveals the artist’s fun and sexual side. In the introductory voiceover, frequent collaborator Simon Wilcox says, “I wonder why nothing catches my eye / Quite like the sight of a girl with a powerful machine between her legs.”

Despite Zig giving Poppy the opportunity to showcase herself in a wide variety of ways, some do not work out as intended. “1s + 0s” is overly repetitive, both lyrically and musically, and contains an awkward sonic progression. The title track, “Zig,” fails to land with its grating chorus, and its production choices feel more haphazard than intentional. On “Hard,” Poppy’s vocal melodies on her opening verses are limply delivered when compared to the driving energetic beat. Unfortunately, some of the lyrics can lack a necessary bite and only teeters on the fence of being rebellious. On the lead single, “Church Outfit,” Poppy sings, “Life is a commercial for death / Anger is something I work to manifest,” a statement that would be more impactful if she developed the subject of her fury more.

Zig should be admired for taking risks, even if they don’t all pay off. It isn’t predictable, but partly because of that, it lacks cohesion, especially when Poppy’s vocals and Payami go after different ideas. Still, her journey as an artist is compelling, and many will be invested in what she does next.

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