Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Album review: Penelope Scott’s double EP

A nostalgic return with ‘Girl’s Night’ and ‘Mysteries for Rats’
Courtesy of Penelope Scott’s Spotify

Penelope Scott is a Baroque punk and chiptune-esque singer and songwriter who gained popularity from the unique yet relatable music she posted during the pandemic on Tik Tok. After two years, Scott returned with a double EP,  “Girl’s Night,” released on Nov. 3, and “Mysteries for Rats,” released on Nov. 17. One song from the latter album came out on Sept. 20 as a teaser, garnering nearly 400,000 streams in just over a month.

The songs on “Girl’s Night” elicit a sense of nostalgia in any fan of Scott’s music, many of them containing melodies from her older songs. For example, the first song on the EP,  “Pseudophed,” follows the melody and chords from “Over the Moon,” a demo she released over two years prior. She also polished that demo to have it as the second song on the EP.

“Pseudophed” was one of my favorites and a wonderful start to the EP. It was reminiscent of “Junkyard 2,” a previous album of hers, but with heavier guitar and a more refined sound. Despite the generally upbeat tempo, there is still a sense of dread in the lyrics and her tone that adds to her unique sound.

 “Over the Moon” was more refined as well, but the lyrics did not have many changes from the original. But the tone was changed slightly to be more consistent with the EP since Scott said she intended for “Girl’s Night” to be more similar to “Junkyard 2” while  “Mysteries for Rats” would be more like “Public Void,” another of her older albums; the alteration accomplished just that.

Then came the seven-minute-long “Cabaret,” which is another personal favorite from the EP. It included the melodies from two songs from  “Junkyard 2,”  “You Should Know” and  “American Healthcare.” This song had a narrative to it with Scott singing about an ex-partner who said her music sounded like a cabaret — not exactly a compliment in this case — and asked her to play her a song that another girl made.

In the song, she said she would have been less upset if her partner had just cheated on her with the girl instead, showing how passionate she is about her music. “How could you do it on my turf in my own home, to my own kids / About what’s so absolutely mine?” she asked in the song, comparing her music to kids of her own. One thing that I, and many other fans of Scott’s music adore is the amount of raw emotion she conveys through each song, and you can especially feel it in this one.

I’ve already chosen two favorites from the six-song EP, but “Cabaret 2” is another standout. It is a more melancholic retrospective look on her love life, less angry than in “Cabaret,” but just as moving. In an interview with Sweety High on Nov. 17, she said that the overarching themes of the EP are “dysfunction and finding a way to function within dysfunction” and reflecting on a “post-college identity.” This song emphasizes that through an aching expression of Scott wishing she could keep the good things in her life. It ends with a soft, bittersweet piano melody, also reminiscent of “American Healthcare.”

In “Runaway,” Scott sings of trying to convince herself to love someone only for them to leave when she can bring herself to. It’s a tragic piece, showing the slow transition from disinterest to care, then to heartbreak. This song has new melodies of its own, but still sounds straight from “Junkyard 2.”

The EP ends with “Time of My Life,” which Scott had released a music video for the instrumental version of in 2020, overlaid with images from the pandemic, both good and bad. In it contained a clip of her crying while saying, “I don’t feel like thanking my stars, I feel like kicking the government in the head again and again” as well. When the new version of this song began, I thought it would follow suit with the original, but it had a more optimistic outlook, fitting for an introspective and reflective album; even if they lose everything, “still the sky remains.”

With “Mysteries for Rats” being more like “Public Void,” it took on a more electronic sound as well. However, she also said that while they would be similar, she felt “Public Void” was more of an “experiment in production hedonism” with “fun, candy-colored sounds” and “reckless bass tracks that sounded almost deep-fried.” She wanted a more mature and thoughtful take for this EP.

As mentioned earlier, “Gross” was the first to be released. Each line of it held so much meaning and the electronic synths with heavy bass made it even more impactful, conveying the sense of heartbreak she intended to.

“Mexico” came next, and was a different sound from anything she’d produced before. It had a more heavy and hopeless feeling with even heavier bass and drums, with an almost circus ambience. She sings about wanting to run away to Mexico because she feels there is nothing left for her where she is, but realizes that wouldn’t suffice: “Nobody here and nobody at home / And I’d be nobody in Mexico.”

“Sin Eater” came next and is Scott’s favorite from the EPs. “‘Sin Eater’ is for people who are not righteous and indignant,” Scott said. “For people who want to wake up tomorrow and try to be a kinder animal. I had a lot of fun and a lot of strife with the composition and the production, and I have listened to this song so many times that I can barely hear it anymore. It’s my favorite one.” She used many lighter instruments in this song, some parts almost sounding like a church choir, which worked well with the religious imagery used in it.

“Shuffle” is more upbeat but is another sad song. Scott sings of the monotony of the “everyday struggle” and the realization that the world isn’t as good as we thought it would be as kids. But, as the song continues, her outlook slowly changes to a more positive view, and the song ends with lines from a “Public Void” song,  “Cigarette Ahegao.”

Lastly, “Cemetery Pigeons” is another favorite. It is a song about not having time to process grief before the chaos and loneliness of the pandemic. This notion is an audible one, with the soft and upbeat melody taking a sudden shift to an almost dizzying one, then a completely different one altogether, before jolting back to the original melody — playing out without any more lyrics over it. The EP comes to a quiet, piano-filled end.

Overall, both EPs were incredibly strong and showcased Scott’s improvement over the past couple of years.

Naomi Bloom can be reached at [email protected]

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