Music Review: Poppy grows up and goes dark pop-y with genre-blending album 'Zig'

This cover image released by Sumerian Records shows "Zig" by Poppy. (Sumerian Records via AP)

Not quite dark pop, not quite techno, not quite any genre at all, Poppy's fifth studio album, “Zig," is rather a mix of several different styles and an example of how far she's come since her debut five years ago.

“Zig” strays far from Poppy's old bubblegum pop sound for those who remember her 2017 debut, “Poppy.Computer," which followed her earliest introductions to the cute-but-strange, pseudo-AI Poppy character — first discovered via surreal performance art YouTube videos in 2015. The bleach-blonde android is nowhere to be seen in “Zig,” but that's not a surprise — she's been gone for some time now.

Poppy's style and sound started to shift with her second album, 2018's “Am I a Girl?” which started to take a heavy metal turn, followed by the even darker “I Disagree” in 2020. She scaled it back for the more alternative “Flux,” and now she's back with “Zig," the evolved combo of her past works.

Backed by synths and electric beats, the sugary-sweet vocals of the 28-year-old singer-songwriter, born Moriah Rose Pereira, are heard on “Zig" in several different forms, from heavy metal screaming to soulful serenading. She may still be figuring out her sound, but there's a confidence to “Zig” that implies she knows exactly what she is doing.

Highlights of the album can be found in “Knockoff,” a bumping pop-ish anthem, and “Motorbike,” a zooming description of a free spirit on a motorcycle. (“Girl on a motorbike/No one can confine her/Epitome of freedom/I'm following behind her," she sings.)

The duds lie in the songs with lackluster, repetitive lyrics like “1s + 0s," and, disappointingly, namesake “Zig,” the chorus of which goes as follows:

“When you zig I zag/When you zig I zag/I zig zag.”


It's especially dumbfounding when other tracks' lyrics are nothing but pure poetry. Take these lines from the lovely “Linger,” for example: “In the whites of your eyes/I can see my next life/Smell the lilies at night/Tell me what you will remember me by.”

“Zig” is overall an interesting, experimental mix that demonstrates how Poppy has grown over the years. Since it blends so many different genres, this album just might have a song for everyone, so it's definitely worth a listen.


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