Album Review: Polly Scattergood - Polly Scattergood

Coming on with all the effortless unforgiving intimacy of a friend that has seen you change more than you realize, Polly Scattergood does for female singer-song-writing what a shot of Jack Daniels does to Coke.  Sweet it may be, but there's darkness here.

If you want lazy comparisons then Scattergood's début has the strong uncompromising femininity of PJ Harvey, the creativity of Kate Bush and the unhinged beauty of mid-career Radiohead. Far more important is the delivery, which throughout the course of the album varies from the good to the sublime.

Fluctuating from fragile yet doused in misplaced aggression (I Hate The Way) to curious and hopeful (Unforgiving Arms) Scattergood is able to perform vocals with a greater breadth and depth than anyone BlackPlastic has heard in far too long. There is a certain a level of sophistication that ensures the angst on display never veers close to anything as crass and needing as a Alanis Morisette record, yet the songs nevertheless display an unashamed accessibility - just listen to the rubber ball bouncing guitar line and hand-claps of Please Don't Touch.

And here's the thing. What makes this album good is not just Scattergood's ambitious vocal delivery and experimental songwriting - it's the backing provided by a producer not content to take the backseat. When the combination really delivers the result is pretty astounding - album highlight Nitrogen Pink carries Scattergood's vocals on a runaway mine-train of fuzzy melodic distortion like My Bloody Valentine on Top Of The Pops. The glorious crescendo of the building rhythm track feels like you are being dragged along by an out of control horse and cart. If this is a taste of her future work it's a ride BlackPlastic is more than happy to take.

Released on Mute on 9 March 2009. To pre-order on click here .

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