It seems to make sense that a man who goes by the name of Bonnie "Prince" Billy would lend his voice to the work of a gal who goes by the name of Scout Niblett. When their talents are at their most sincere, both are unique and beautiful. Niblett (do I still have to write "Emma Louise"?) has a voice that is reminiscent of, and at times more alive than, Chan Marshall's. Evidence of Niblett's potential has existed since she released her 2001 debut, Sweet Heart Fever, and she has often experimented with a raw sound that can deter rather than attract. Unfortunately, like previous albums, This Fool Can Die Now only flirts with what she may be capable of.[more:]
The album begins where 2005's minimalist-grunge Kidnapped by Neptune ends. Adrift with subtle guitar, opener "Do You Want to Be Buried with My People" starts with a weaving repetition (common to Niblett) of guitar and vocals from her and Will Oldham, before it opens up to become more textured than anything on Neptune. "Kiss," which is the second track and also features Oldham, is her most musically mature. Emotions rise and fall along with sweeping strings and the fullest sound Niblett has yet played.
But she takes a step backward for the remainder of the album. After "Kiss," the album returns to Neptune's drumbeat sing-along styling on "Moon Lake," and the faithfully grunge guitar of "Let Thine Heart Be Warned." Although other tracks offer up moments of well-crafted emotional outbursts (one of Niblett's strengths), such as the breakdown on "Nevada" or "Hide and Seek," the remainder of the album's fourteen tracks (most notably the nonsensical "Dinosaur Egg") are perhaps evidence that the fool could have died a little sooner and no one would have minded.
Niblett seems to take pleasure in her aversion of the pleasant. Emma Louise is a beautiful British chanteuse, but Scout chooses instead to look uninviting at best (she often performs in an ugly blond wig and an ill-fitting skeleton suit). Because this also affects her music, This Fool Can Die Now is a good welcome to the premeditatedly off-kilter world of Scout Niblett. For those who are not new, the album once again carries the label of "this could be good."
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