Polly Scattergood’s eponymous debut album has been a constant this year. On the surface there is a beautiful voice, tinkling piano, violins and guitars. What appears to be a simple and pleasurable album of ten songs soon entrances you and reveals it bruises to you. In my interview with Polly, she mentions Gregory Crewdson’s photographs, ‘he takes these amazing photographs of what on the surface looks like very “normal” suburbia, but when you look at the photos a bit harder you start noticing things aren’t quite what they seem…’. This is the same with her album the more you let yourself seep into her songs the more you are rewarded.
The album starts with I Hate The Way (pass me some pills and I will go to bed, but however much I toss and turn, I feel a dark place up ahead), a statement of intent when it was released as the second single and again here as the opener and more so now with the added stream of consciousness. The final song, Breath In Breath Out, is perfect too with the chirps of birds at the beginning followed by softly sung lyrics (though you’re distant, you’re my shadow, constantly). In between these songs are eight songs of bewitching quality as the music and lyrics induces conflicting emotions. There is Untitled 27 which starts with semi-haunting piano before the echoing voices of ‘I miss you, where are you, I’m lost’ drifts over before the first lyrics (suicidal tendencies, drink creativity, autopilot, numb the music, sick). Unforgiving arms would come across as a straight forward love song if it wasn’t for the mystery of some of the lyrics (full of cheats and creeps who lick the crumbs, they lick the crumps up, steal the magic). Then there is the fun of Bunny Club, a live favourite (and very much enjoyed at the Lancaster Library gig), but again the lyrics suggest more (finger my pigtalls, as you deal me some cards).
I could go on about the lyrics all day, at once, I assume, deeply personal to Polly but also universal. They remind me of when I started writing, that clawing out of the insides to try and make sense of what I feel and it makes me miss the fact I no longer write lyrics and my guitar collects dust.
This is an album that rewards and one I recommend to you all. Visit Polly Scattergood to listen to some of the tracks and then buy yourself a copy. In the age of the x factor and the manufactured pulp that comes from it, an album full of emotion, full of life is something to be treasured.
Posted: 2 March 2019