Polly Scattergood

Arrows

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Polly Scattergood counts herself among the alumni of the much vaunted Brit school, but her soft vocal and distinct mixture of alt-folk and electronic influences were never destined for the chart stardom in the same manner as Adele or Katy B. Her 2009 self-titled debut was revered by a faction of fans, and won praise from a small corner of the music press before she disappeared to write her follow-up album, Arrows, which was four years in the making after a protracted bout of writer's block. She enlisted the help of songwriter Glen Kerrigan and they moved between London and Berlin as they transformed her sound in a darkened, synth-led electronic direction that marked her return in somber, introspective fashion. Scattergood proved her talents as a storyteller in her debut, but here it takes a while for her to step into her stride, with opener "Cocoon" starting in solitary fashion with almost forceful lyrical rhymes that betray the bittersweet melody that loops throughout the track. The atmospheric "Machines" begins with a Sigur Rós-sounding intro that builds in layers of electronic melodies and into the emotional urgency that Scattergood wields so well. Her distinctive voice fluctuates between the chilling, ethereal tones of stripped-back "Miss You" and the sugary pop that feeds singles "Disco Damaged Kid" and "Wanderlust" which, in turn, provide the uplifting, dancefloor-ready moments to the album. There is a slight detachment between the otherworldly, eccentric storytelling and the emotional despair that Scattergood offers on this record. While there are moments of honest introspection that offer some personal insight, there aren't enough to wholly convince. However, there is no doubt that Scattergood is deeply connected to the journey that she voyages through on Arrows, and it's clear that only a small future refinement would result in more songs like the shimmering electro-pop of "Subsequently Lost."

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