Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Jul 23rd, 2013

Scout Niblett: It’s Up to Emma

scoutScout Niblett
It’s Up to Emma
(Drag City)

Buy it at Amazon!

Warped like a surrealist dream, It’s Up to Emma is the newest record from Portland indie punk guitar-slinger Scout Niblett.

An album-length shout through the stages of post-breakup grief and denial, It’s Up to Emma is among the artist’s most compelling releases to date. Niblett’s sound still features chiseled-down blues guitar lines like a bare tombstone in a desert of heartache. She still cuts through light distortion with a bare-boned picked-by-vultures voice. Even with strings and synths here and there, the album plays with the same pared-down, twisted, and chilling lo-fi aesthetic of Niblett’s earlier work.

Here we find Niblett in various fits of obsession and psychological contortion, from vengeful acceptance on the caustic punk opener “Gun” to surrender on the closer “What Can I Do?” An unlikely but interesting cover, “No Scrubs” appears as a washed-out power ballad through the all-damage, no-sass filter of Niblett’s taut, straining voice.

A classic-era punk girl take on the perennially irritating song, “Think Before He Cheats,” “Gun” is like the fire built up in a Molotov cocktail – full of fury and ready to explode.

Another highlight is “Second Chance Dreams,” a zombie-like march where Niblett howls, “What do you want from me?” in an origami voice propelled by the unrelenting pulse of a double bass drum.

Listen for the full fireworks show of emotions and music.

If you can think of a better “psycho-ex-girlfriend” record, let me know.

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Scout Niblett: It’s Up to Emma