The Calcination Of Scout Niblett

by Lisa Kirchner

English singer/songwriter Scout Niblett shares a minimalist sensibility and general vocal range with her more glamorous contemporary Cat Power, but there are less obvious comparisons to be made on her new album, The Calcination.

Whether it’s because of the participation of famed producer Steve Albini or the fact that her record is out on Drag City, there’s a hint of minimalist Chicago post-rock that flavors the skeletal compositions. Clear, ringing guitars put stringy, raw muscle on the arrangements as Niblett wails expressively.

“Cherry Cheek Bomb” starts off with buzzing grunge-era guitars right off of Nirvana’s Bleach before Niblett hushes things up, but the tension implied in the track’s opening is always under the surface, with those guitars rolling hypnotically and threatening to poke through until the full-on assault at the end. All of Calcination thrives on a sweaty tension that rarely reaches full boil but never truly abates, either, even in the quietest moments.

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