Review of Polly Scattergood's self-titled album.
Ever thought about what happens to the 'funny' kids at school? The girls who just aren't popular? The boys who think they were girls doing boys? Well, most of them go on to lead perfectly normal lives. Some of them go on to appear on Crimewatch. And just a few of them use the experiences of being repeatedly stood up, ignored or victimised and turn it into art. Welcome to the world of Polly Scattergood.
Like many of those shaped acutely by their formative experiences, the 22 year old Essex girl's silent screams are of wild contrast; there are biploar moments of deepest, bottomless psychosis and at the other horizon extremes of warmth and acceptance. Opener I Hate The Way deals with the legacy of patriarchal abuse with confrontational honesty, the weapons a jagged piano and churning guitar, the singer's distinctively breathy intonation bordering on asphyxia. It's an intensely melancholic, bunny boiling sense of desolation that's thematically shared on the likes of Poem Song and Untitled 27. At the other end of the spectrum is the kind of music played at all the parties poor Polly was never invited to; single Other Too Endless is the Tings Tings refracted through the shards of a broken mirror, whilst both Nitrogen Pink and Please Don't Touch successfully annex the other Pink's rockier territory.
But the defining moment is one which has the potential to catapult her into the real celebrity world at a stroke. I Am Strong, lyrics unpacking the remnants of a shredded relationship from the rejected's heartbroken point of view, plays in an understated, pedestrian house key, whilst the refrain 'I am strong, I am not weak, I'm not in a place where I can talk to you' sounds like it's straight from the therapists' couch. A song which will have the tracksuit masses and Ugg booted girls alike hugging each other at chucking out time, it's a slight remix and half a tab away from being 2009's definitive Ibiza track. And if that seems a little incongruous, it's only our prejudices putting up barriers. Polly Scattergood is no longer desperately seeking our approval. But she deserves it.
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