As you mentioned, check linkage and look for bikes with a less rearward axle path and a rising rate suspension characteristic. That is, one that ramps up earlier.
I'm currently riding a Lapierre Spicy as my do-it-all and that seems very 'Poppy' indeed. So much so that when I go deep into the travel it seems to fire it forward when it's extending the shock; it feels like it's making speed out of the terrain. I've always found a good single pivot does that too.
My DH bike is a Nicolai Helius ST but with a BOS Vip'r rear shock. I don't like too ground hugging bikes, which was also a reason I got rid of my Last Herb DH (potentially similar feelings that Northwind has). It has a mildy rising rate but coupled with the Bos shock, is very well supported in the midstroke with a nice ramp up in the final 3rd that makes it feel bottomless and 'Poppy', whilst still be supremely controlled due to the Bos damping. I never have the bouncing me off the pedals or over the bars feeling, yet can still easily lift and shift the bike around without the feeling that I'm uncoiling the back end before it lifts.
Indeed re Bos Vipr. I run Deville and VipR on Rune V2 frame (VPP). It feels good though it feels dead at lower speed but once I ride faster, the fun starts and I start to laugh. I did set +9 on rebound and made things in rides that I didnt before. Vipr encouraged me to go faster as it is confidence inspiring and like you said, I didnt get any close to over-bar accident or wobbley feeling. When it happens, relatively long 640mm reach saves me. At other thing, the shock follows small bump chatter still nicely.
Interesting that you use that shock in dh frame. It is useful not only in enduro, I see. Doesnt it get heated?
Your Spicy appears have Horst link, right? I remember when I ran Norco dh year 2002 with horst link ten years ago, it was very fun despite badly tuned fork. There was poppy feeling definitely though at that time I was noob and couldnt maximize the ride.
It also explains little of physics re Horst link/Single pivot. When the rear linkage bounces back, it does more intensely due weight transfer in movement from main pivot. While VPP is good at anti squat and probably reacts milder in rebound so you had to do more in body language. I feel the same in Sunday dh frame which is so easy to ride through rocks or whatever. I got suggested to bump up coil spring strength in rear shock (300 to 325lbs). Rear axle plays a role too as you mentioned.
What bummer about Last Herb, it looked nice. You said that it worked nicely with Bos, still you decided to sell this?
Could you name a couple with typical a rising rate suspension of newer models?