Scout Niblett
Wigged out drum kit cutie
Scout Niblett – Sometimes We All Need To Pretend.

‘You’re 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.

It’s 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 she’s the one in control here. The hollering innocent chants are all about love, firefly’s having sex and an infatuation with America. Kids dreams. Before you realize life is hard & people are stupid, before you realize we’re all going to die. Age and cynicism hit in. It doesn’t take long. Scout Niblett seems to have bypassed all that. Denial - it’s not a bad thing.

True delight widens with naivety, Scout sure as hell has that. A naivety which is empowering. It’s admirable, it’s desirable, it’s a good defense mechanism. Caught up in her fairytale world. Standing alone. This is outsider’s 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. There’s 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. It’s good to put it all in perspective.

Scouts second full length ‘I am’ is minimalism at best. Silence is used and abused. It’s powerful, and it’s 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 one’s wrong (Ginicocola)’. They build to a climax of elated screams. ‘Reach out for a song’ she urges. It’s 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. ‘We’re all going to die’ she wails enthusiastically, and you know she’s 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.

It’s nice to believe in her simple strength from life and death, for a while at least. It’s hard not to be lifted by the real emotion you can hear crackling in her voice and it’s 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. She’s just like the rest of us.

Emma Louise, a girl from Nottingham, hiding from the world behind her wig.

Nat Shooter – tMx11 – 09/03
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