Album Reviews: Kidnapped by Neptune by Scout NiblettScout Niblett will keep you on your toes. Normally, the soft-loud-soft dynamic wouldn’t take anybody by surprise anymore, but when Niblett takes that path, she doesn’t seem to be changing tempo so much as changing identity. She’s part quixotic folkstress, part impish seductress, and part inscrutable banshee. “Newburyport” is one example of the myriad left turns throughout Kidnapped by Neptune. Niblett spends the first half of the song in a dense jam of fuzzy guitars and scattershot percussion, before focusing into grand, grungy breakdown and then discarding most of the instrumentation altogether, using her delicate voice to close out the song. A similar dynamic exists on the howling standout “Lullaby for Scout in Ten Years.” Elsewhere, songs like “Safety Pants” find hypnosis through minimalism and relentless repetition, the effects of which will be off-putting to some.
Despite occasional flashes of similarity to the women to whom she is often compared -- PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Bjork -- Niblett’s closest kindred spirits of renown may very well be Daniel Johnston and Jack White. Like both of those songwriters, her songs channel both the innocent and warped worldviews of childhood. Like Johnston, she takes her songs -- and her voice -- to the edge, unafraid of showing the cracks. Like White, she knows her way around old-time blues, but also loves to kick up a glorious squall with just a basic kick drum and a hellacious guitar. - Adam McKibbin
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