Album Review: Jordan Popky – Sweet Degenerate

Brooklyn based Jordan Popky showcases the range of her songwriting and sound on her immersive and thoughtful debut LP Sweet Degenerate

After a few years of establishing her intimate, thoughtful, and refreshingly unique indie-alternative sound, Brookyn singer-songwriter Jordan Popky¬†has releases her debut full length LP Sweet Degenerate, a vulnerable showcase of the artist’s creativity and guile, continuing to highlight the distinctive appeal and charm of the artists personality and style.

Following on from the album’s gentle, string-led introductory track ‘Reaching Out’, the album delves right into her thoughtful storytelling and distinctive flair on ‘Ghost Stories’, a track that builds and flows seamlessly alongside a narrative of healing and growth before descending into sonic chaos. A really powerful and appropriately creative way to start the artist’s debut album.

This leads into the gorgeous ‘Delicate’, a track about perception and the disparity in the way that the artist feels like she perceives herself compared to others. The track highlights an artist who knows what she is capable of and is more than happy to prove everybody wrong, and her engrossing melodies and captivating charm on the track just reinforces the massive potential that Jordan has.

The sobering and powerful ‘Last Words’ follows, with the artist baring her soul against a backdrop of fuzzy, grungy guitars that feels appropriately sombre. The track is something of a journey, featuring Trophy Wife, Sarah Mickey and Ellajay and packed full of emotional resonance and depth throughout.

The next track is the artist’s latest single ‘Mahogany’, a harrowing emotional gut punch throughout, the track explores grief and the experience of having to let a loved one go. The stripped-back nature of the sound and Jordan’s incredible vocals make for a track that feels raw and unerringly real, leaving a lasting impression on you as a listener as the narrative and sadness of the track transfixes you throughout. The track is the longest on the album clocking in at almost six minutes long, but never feels like it sags or drags on as the artist patiently and cathartically lays out her thoughts and feelings.

‘Something To Walk Away From’ and ‘Who You’re Holding’ are tracks that continue to highlight this slow-burning power that Jordan Popky’s sound possesses, continuing the album’s trend of letting the storytelling take centre stage while the soft nuances of the artist’s sound provide an engaging backdrop to accentuate the narratives. The former deals with an exploitative and troubling relationship while the latter has a much more peaceful feel, creating an interesting dynamic and contrast back to back.

Another single is next, ‘The Wolf and The Shark, a track that showcases the more theatrical, full band side to the artist’s sound and one that is packed full of emphatic and memorable moments. From the vibrancy and dynamism of the guitars to Jordan’s enthralling vocals, to what is probably the album’s catchiest and most memorable chorus, ‘The Wolf and The Shark’ is a triumph of a track, culminating in a frenetic and explosive guitar solo that just symbolises the sheer range of Jordan Popky’s sound.

‘Tired of the Fight’ is another track that showcases the resilient spirit of the artist, a track that veers more to the anthemic and larger side of her sound as she battles through the monotony of having fights and arguments that feel futile and pointless. While the subject matter of her tracks often feels quite personal and specific, there are a lot of moments where Jordan’s lyrics feel instantly relatable and easy to resonate with, and this track is definitely one of them.

‘Cradle the Flame’ is next, a melodic and engaging release that maintains the artist’s trademark intensity, especially through her lyrics and delivery. The track allows her personality to shine through through throughout, as it often does, and feels like a vintage Jordan Popky track thanks to its empowering atmosphere and energetic flair.

There is a spiky, punk rock edge to ‘Measure of the Damage’, a soaring track that is packed full of energy and rebellious charm throughout. This sense of energy and explosiveness provides a stark contrast to ‘Drowning’ that follows, a more measured and subtle release that makes for one of the most poignant and engrossing moments on the album. The track ebbs and flows at a delicate pace, really allowing her thoughtful lyrics and arrangements space to breathe and shine, and it makes for a truly rewarding listening experience.

The rewarding and thoughtful vibes continue through to ‘Songbird’, a track that slows things right down and provides something of a moment of clarity and calm among an album that is packed full of intensity and a range of different styles and ideas. This feels like a moment of peaceful reflection following everything that has preceded it, with the bare nature of the sound and the isolated vocals and strings making for something that feels stirring and vulnerable in the most endearing fashion.

‘Something Sweeter / Last Words / Ghost Stories (Reprise)’ closes out the album and continues to hone in on this reflective feeling. The album as a whole has showcased many different sides and facets to Jordan Popky and her sound, with her personality and the vulnerability and openness of her writing serving as the constant that keeps ticking through it throughout. Whether you like the more heavy and energetic aspects of her sound or the more spacious and immersively thoughtful, the album has a plethora of moments of each, making for a varied and engaging debut LP that is the perfect place to familarise yourself with the artist and her unique style.