Review: Poppy paints an intimate portrait of her psyche with ‘Stagger’

Singer-songwriter Poppy’s first release since “Flux” continues on a path of more emotive, focused lyricism that finally lets us see beyond her persona.


(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Poppy released her new EP “Stagger” on Oct. 14. (Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Valentina Arrieta, Contributing Writer

On her latest EP “Stagger,” Poppy shows growing ease and comfort as a rock artist. The singer-songwriter develops her lyricism to show a typically unseen personal side. On “Stagger,” we see Poppy begin to solidify herself more as an artist — and not just a persona — as she lets listeners into her traumatic last relationship. With four thrilling tracks, “Stagger” is a solid continuation of her last album, “Flux.”

Following the release of her third studio album “I Disagree,” Poppy stepped out confidently, taking more freedom with her musical choices. She also came out with ambitious and incredibly experimental work including “Music to Scream To,” a sharp and noisy six-song album that served as a soundtrack to her graphic novel “Poppy’s Inferno.” 

The EP starts off defiantly with “FYB.” The rocking melody is amplified by distorted guitars that give it a punk feel, and Poppy’s impassioned delivery makes the track feel cathartic. “FYB” starts off immediately with Poppy angrily singing, “I figured you out / And I know what you’re about / You’re sticking it out / So your dick’s in her mouth.” The high energy on “FYB” immediately catches your attention and prepares you for the rest of the EP. 

“Pocket” starts with an atmospheric percussive loop before Poppy’s voice comes in, followed by guitars. She breathily sings, “I’d fold myself so small / To fit into your pocket / Carry me around / Take me out when you wanted.” When the chorus comes in, the track picks up and develops into a battle cry and an alt-rock anthem. In the post-chorus, she repeats “I stood for you” over and over again before the powerful finale, when she layers soft vocals with a version of her screaming the same lyrics in the background. 

The following track “Shapes” feels the most mainstream of all the songs, but it’s a great track nonetheless. Poppy finally shows her coming out the other side of her toxic relationship, with the chorus uttering “I’m changing shapes / I’m a work in progress.” With the line, “And my rage is my emotional protest,” she emphasizes the consistent theme and inspiration behind the EP. The guitars paired with the “oohs” in the post-choruses make for a fun, catchy tune.

The final and title track “Stagger” feels like a revelation. It is the most surprising number, with its inward lyricism and inventive, unexpected production. The track is intimate, with Poppy crooning hypnotically, “A crisis without a cause / Faith put in a false God / A misstep of emoting / I’m tryna get to where I’m going.” The ambiance of the track is entrancing, and the heaviness of the synths makes it feel psychedelic — an unexpected sound for Poppy. The artist offers a deeper look into her psyche, allowing the listener to experience the emotions she felt during her toxic relationship.

Overall, the project is a strong addition to Poppy’s discography. She shines earnestly in this work, with strikingly introspective songwriting. She starts to show herself finally stepping out of her persona, showing more of the person behind the character — Moriah Rose Pereira. In this way, she gives insight into her own struggles and motivations. Since her last album “Flux” her music has come off as more focused and engaging. This EP makes for an exciting point of departure for her future works.

Contact Valentina Arrieta at [email protected].