Electrically charged, Colchester born singer-songwriter, Polly Scattergood is celebrating a special birthday. It’s been ten years since the release of her first single under the Mute record label – “Nitrogen Pink” which was released on September 2007.
Since then, she has released two solo albums - her self-titled debut in 2009 and the critically-acclaimed Arrows in 2013. In 2016, as one-half of onDeadWaves, she released a collaboration album with fellow label-mate, James Chapman A.K.A. MAPS (whose last album, Vicissitude was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize). The partnership proved to be a success with both Mute artists combining their creative talents with poetry and cleverly arranged instrumentation. So, it seems fitting that MAPS has created this special MuteMix, highlighting tracks from Polly’s catalogue from the last ten years.
Disco-Damaged Kid – a track from Polly’s debut album starts this mini-musical journey then blends effortlessly into the sunny retro groove of California from the onDeadWaves album – a breezy, uplifting song with a nod to folk-psychedelia. Subsequently Lost makes an appearance from Polly’s second album Arrows – this is a great electro-pop song and despite the uptempo, shimmering beat, Polly’s vocal adds a sadness to the song: “Now I subsequently lost my mind love/Apparently I’m going nowhere..”
The strangely seductive Bunny Club from her debut album weaves into the wonderfully wacky Wanderlust – from Arrows – quite simply a delight of a song oozing with energetic shimmering synths. In between these two songs, listen very carefully and I do believe you catch a tiny snippet from Alice – the second onDeadWaves song on this mix. Then – my favourite bit of MAPS magic …(I actually got goosebumps). As Wanderlust echoes away, Polly is celestial as she sings Cocoon: “From my cocoon of angel wings/ From my cocoon I’m gonna let you in” Then MAPS’ addition of rich textures and warm tones of sparkling electronica make a great track a stunning track.
Other Too Endless struts in with huge drums before transforming into the hazy wonder of Blackbird a lovely song of melancholic yearning as Polly & James sing: “My dreams are like Summer/ and yours are like Spring/ Let’s sleep until Sunrise/ Sing Blackbird Sing”
The last song of the mix is Polly’s first song release. And it seems right to end with the song that began her career with Mute. Polly’s trademark delicate vocal tentatively opens Nitrogen Pink – but don’t be fooled – she soon adds weight and punch with a vocal that sounds like a mad mix of Bjork and Kate Bush. It’s a magnificent, rousing song full of musical textures. Then… just a brief, haunting Winter’s Child whistle brings us back to the present day.
MAPS is well known for creating excellent soundscapes and makes light work here of creating a seamless 30-minute mix of the best elements of Polly – her emotional story-telling with an impressive underpinning of swooning synth and sounds. Happy “Birthday” Polly – and awesome work from MAPS.