In this fast-changing and fast-paced environment we currently find ourselves somewhat lost in, it’s an albums ability to displace the listener that remains one of its key attractions. Sure, there are more instant and succinct ways of consuming music, but that all-enveloping escapism that a full-record offers remains a wholly-satisfactory and often much-needed distraction.
This seems applicable to Arrows, the sophomore album from the quirky POLLY SCATTERGOOD. Quietened opening-track Cocoon instantly casts a spell, drawing you in with it’s softened, laid-back display before the swirling Falling further enhances this daydream-like quality and, before you even really realise it, you’re lost. Landscapes have shifted, the day doesn’t look quite how you remember it, and the only option is to carry on regardless. Not that you’ll be kicking-up much of a fuss. Machines is another eminently pretty slice of odd-pop, its fragility enhanced by a lead vocal that feels like it could break at any moment. There are hints of ARCADE FIRE on the four and a half minutes track. Meandering like a river, it slowly and subtly builds from the warm acoustics of its opening passage to a triumphant release in its latter stages; accompanied by orchestral strings, striking guitars, pounding drums and the subtle twinkling of ebony and ivory keys.
Arrows makes for a nice record, but maybe nice is all it is. There’s a definite sense of having heard it all before, by countless other decent bands. There is plenty hear to keep a listener hooked for the first listen, but taking it beyond a pleasant spin into the realms of out and out, life-affirming obsession is unlikely.
Tracks like Subsequently Lost are expansive, dream-inducing glides through the psychedelic, relaxed record, but with that soothing atmosphere comes the problem that it can also wash over the listener without leaving much of an impression. Towards the end of the album, there’s a flash of excitement as Disco Damaged Kid is gloriously anthemic track, where violins and synths swirl before giving way to a thick, pulsating bass tone. The music sounds euphoric against the almost sorrowful melody of POLLY SCATTERGOOD, but it all merges into a mournful, psychedelic sigh.
Arrows is a great album to maybe listen to it once or twice to extract some few pearls. It is a record that will conjure beautiful images in listener’s heads as they gaze out of train windows. It is filled with songs that will make brilliant soundtracks to adverts depicting those things. What I’m trying to say is that it tries too hard to stand out among all those other great albums by artists like BAT FOR LASHES, KATE BUSH or BJÖRK. It lacks a little individuality and a bit of soul. The music is well played, well constructed and it’s a very nicely produced album, but there are only few moments where an audience’s attention is grabbed or demanded.