BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
As her name might suggest, Polly Scattergood does well in defying description. A search for comparisons could conjure up the image of Bjork fronting Florence and the Machine (leaving Florence to fend for herself presumably). Still, like all eccentric artists – a category for which Scattergood certainly qualifies – she seems to follow her own whims, while disregarding expectations and any particular set of standards.
Unlike some current performers who rely strictly on shock, outrage or extravagance, Scattergood opts instead for emotion, pouring out her feelings with unfiltered honesty. “I’ve got a soul/And it’s as sad as they come/Because it used to feel everything/And now it’s just numb, numb, numb,” she wails on the album’s final coda, “I’ve Got a Heart.” Then there’s this, from “Falling”: “Oh my God, my heart is breaking/Is this what my mind’s creating…”
It’s might easy to applaud Scattergood’s willingness to share her sentiments, no matter how brutal and brittle they sometimes seem. Indeed, if she’s using her songs as a substitute for a psychiatrist couch, who can complain? Despite those candid confessions, #Arrows# never bows to Scattergood’s self-indulgence, given the swooning synths and other cosmic confections. Songs like “Falling” and “Subsequently Lost” build off kinetic rhythms and billowing arrangements, driving the drama to maximum effect. Likewise, when she sings in her fragile, childlike whimper – as expressed in “Cocoon” and the aforementioned “I’ve Got a Heart”– her vulnerability is especially evident.
It will be interesting to see how Scattergood progresses from this point on, and whether she’ll choose to go the route of further embellishment, even while pouring out her emotions with honesty and eloquence. As long as Polly keeps it pure, she should be able to sustain that full measure of fascination.
DOWNLOAD: “I’ve Got a Heart,” “Cocoon”