EP Review – Futures Unsure by Poppongene (2020) (Our Golden Friend)

I feel a bit fatherly towards Sophie Treloar (aka Poppongene). Not because I have any actual right to, but more specifically just because I have followed her every musical moved since her truly exceptional Esky EP in 2017. She has always been the one I knew would ‘get there’.

Without wishing to sound all old man condescending, this EP typifies that she is musically and personally something of a big girl now, compared to the fluffy, sumptious, all manner of gorgeous dream-pop that typified her earlier sound.

The pre-release interviews highlighted the fact that the tracks were written in difficult personal times. As if to emphasize exactly how this would make a difference to her general aesthetic, the EP opens up with two tracks of comparative muscle to anything that has gone before.

Not muscle imasmuch that she has gone off on a tangent and started to impart upon the world 90’s alt.rock and grunge, but more specifically by infusing the opening two tracks (Not Wrong and Don’t Even Know) with that leftfield early Sinead O’Connor lilt in her vocal delivery.

It’s a sound that simply could not be surrounded by dreamy textures as it immediately arouses an aura of possible pain, but it is a ‘pain’ she pulls off with aplomb. All feminine strength compared to the early years of just feminine.

The release is completed by Already Gone and You’ll Never Know. Both have an intonation of windswept, battered emotionality, that can only really be delivered by chanteuses with the strongest of voices. These are perhaps the first tracks that show the sheer extensive range of Treloar’s vocal abilities. Genuinely incredible.

Thankfully, there is still enough of the sound we loved from yesterday in the remainder of the tracks, although there is still a pervading, omnipotent, sense of extra maturity throughout.

The best of these sees Eternally Alone (see above), I Can’t Be What You Need and Wet Towel (see below) bounce lead riffs through the best of chunky basslines, to create her signature leftfield melodies. At the very least they prove that life has not beaten her.

Poppongene has grown up. In all the best ways.

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