White Poppy is the solo project of British Columbia musician Crystal Dorval, and this first full-length is chock full of wide expanses of sound and big ideas. Opener and standout moment “Darkness Turns to Light” morphs hazy shoegazing guitars into seething electronic swells, while “Wear Me Away” takes a Cure-cum-surf-rock guitar riff and whips it into a white-noise frenzy. These moments, where the organic clashes with the electronic, are where White Poppy can shine. Sometimes, though, that clash ends up dulling both, as on the too adrift “Today Tomorrow”, the overworked noise experiments of “Emotional Intelligence”, or the confusion of echoes in “Existential Angst”. These more jumbled sounds wouldn’t be as tricky to handle if they didn’t obscure Dorval herself. Under all these sounds, what is actually a dynamic voice gets over-treated with effect and blends into the background. The best moments show her as a bright new voice, but too often that voice gets drowned out by too much production or too little sonic shape.
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// Notes from the Road
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