Warped like a surrealist dream, Itâ€™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, Itâ€™s Up to Emma is among the artistâ€™s most compelling releases to date. Niblettâ€™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 Niblettâ€™s earlier work.
Here we find Niblett in various fits of obsession and psychological contortion, from vengeful acceptance on the caustic punk opener â€œGunâ€ to surrender on the closer â€œWhat Can I Do?â€ An unlikely but interesting cover, “No Scrubs” appears as a washed-out power ballad through the all-damage, no-sass filter of Niblettâ€™s taut, straining voice.
A classic-era punk girl take on the perennially irritating song, “Think Before He Cheats,” â€œGunâ€ is like the fire built up in a Molotov cocktail â€“ full of fury and ready to explode.
Another highlight is â€œSecond Chance Dreams,â€ a zombie-like march where Niblett howls, â€œWhat do you want from me?â€ 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.