Scout Niblett Sometimes We All Need To Pretend.
Youre so sweet on the eye she quietly screams, over a disjointed rusty ukulele. It cuts through the air, nakedly revealing childlike admiration.
You play your instrument so well. The words linger in the room like heavy smoke.
Its scary just how captivating the voice of Scout Niblett can be. Rising from soft unstable murmurs to an unhinged powerful cry. Repeated words cradle back & forth. Dangerously out of control. Frantic strumming. Harassed drum beats. Wailing guitars. An urgency to start,- an urgency to end. Playful, emotional, dominating and demanding - a fusion full of contradiction. Not many can pull it off, but Scout knows shes the one in control here. The hollering innocent chants are all about love, fireflys having sex and an infatuation with America. Kids dreams. Before you realize life is hard & people are stupid, before you realize were all going to die. Age and cynicism hit in. It doesnt take long. Scout Niblett seems to have bypassed all that. Denial - its not a bad thing.
True delight widens with naivety, Scout sure as hell has that. A naivety which is empowering. Its admirable, its desirable, its a good defense mechanism. Caught up in her fairytale world. Standing alone. This is outsiders music. Scout Niblett & her audience kept at a distance - like her incoherent songs. The pitch heightens, the separation increases, the mystery is overpowering.
Wavering punk, psychotic folk, simplistic power pop, call it what you will. Theres no escaping the intoxicating croons of the girl - in the wig, sat behind the drums, going crazy. On a level emotionally with Cat Power, the quiet enchantment of Nina Nastasia or the haunting whispers of Beth Gibbons. Few painlessly touch on the important issues of life and death. Too many broken hearts, too little time and too few willing to listen. Its good to put it all in perspective.
Scouts second full length I am is minimalism at best. Silence is used and abused. Its powerful, and its beautiful. The best tracks are made of all but lone voice and drum. Simple - but not incomplete. Background Breeders-esque guitars and a basic beat force out the whispers on No ones wrong (Ginicocola). They build to a climax of elated screams. Reach out for a song she urges. Its unsettling. Drummer boy gives way to haunting, bending guitars. Stopping & starting. Falling & rising. Teasing us with the promise of more. Scout sings a playground chant shortly followed by a provoking infantile scream. Left breathless. Were all going to die she wails enthusiastically, and you know shes right, but it sounds great. Somebody shoot me now.
Voice at breaking point I am an emergency vehicle I am, an emergency vehicle I am she bawls. Again and again. Back comes the repetitive ukulele. Alarming, maddening, it demands your full attention. Then the record stops, and you are left hanging. Down on the floor, on your knees, begging for more.
Its nice to believe in her simple strength from life and death, for a while at least. Its hard not to be lifted by the real emotion you can hear crackling in her voice and its difficult to not be enchanted by her mystery. But something tells me her repetitive chants are just a release, a way of escaping. Fear hidden with mock delight. After all, when the Goldilocks wig comes off, and the stage is no longer below her feet, the magic stops. Shes just like the rest of us.
Emma Louise, a girl from Nottingham, hiding from the world behind her wig.
Nat Shooter tMx11 09/03