Polly Scattergood absolutely had to leave her home to write the songs that would eventually become “Arrows,” her engrossing sophomore album due out June 14 on Mute.
The indie-pop singer-songwriter tried piecing together a new collection of songs in the same London flat where she wrote her 2009 self-titled debut, but when she realized that nothing was coming out, she headed to Berlin, unpacked a mini-studio in a hotel room and hunkered down on a more complete electronic sound. By the time the album was finished, Scattergood had also traveled to Norfolk to write and London to record with Mute founder Daniel Miller.
“This album was written in what was quite a transitional point in my life,” Scattergood tells Billboard. “I kept packing up my things and going to different places, but I never seemed to really get anywhere. It was kind of like being on a treadmill. So that’s the story of this album — it’s one big journey, really. I tried to reflect the movement in the album.”
The U.K. artist has always worn influences like Kate Bush and Tori Amos on her sleeve; “Polly Scattergood,” which was released after the singer signed a deal with Mute at the age of 22, contains enough biting songwriting to lend some gravity to its starry-eyed dance tunes. But “Arrows” is simply a tighter project, with an almost utilitarian approach to ballads like “Miss You” as well as unpredictable synthesizer showcases like “Falling” and “Disco Damaged Kid.” Very few moments are wasted on “Arrows,” which is partially due to the presence of Glenn Kerrigan, who was tapped to co-write alongside Scattergood after working closely with another London singer-songwriter, Emmy the Great.
“I searched for a writing partner, which is something I hadn’t really done before,” sayd Scattergood. “My imagination is quite wild, and I wanted somebody who could sit with me and sift through the shit.”
After “Disco Damaged Kid” was released last November, the dreamy first single “Wanderlust” was issued last month, and remixes of the track from buzzed-about pop artist Charli XCX as well as R&B experimentalist How To Dress Well quickly followed. “‘Wanderlust’ has so many different layers and textures, and giving it away to another musician and just saying ‘Do what you do’ is such an exciting thing,” says Scattergood, adding that there will definitely be more remixes of “Arrows” tracks coming.
Before the album release, Scattergood is preparing for more single releases and readying a new live show, after performing a string of club shows in support of her 2009 debut. Perhaps most intriguingly, though, the singer-songwriter has been spending some studio time concocting a mixtape that will feature an all-female roster of friends and peers.
“It’s kind of a work-in-progress at the moment, so I can’t tell you exactly who’s on it and who’s not,” she says, “but the idea that I had was to do a mixtape… full of other women, who are all doing interesting electronic pop.”