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A person whose words are so potent that they cause the people and beings around them to vibrate is said to have a “silver tongue.” It’s apt, then, that Mackenzie Scott—who has spent the 2010s making boundary-pushing pop music under her TORRES moniker—has chosen to call her fourth album, and first release on Merge, just that.
Recorded at O’Deer in Brooklyn, New York, Silver Tongue is a full-scale realization of the world Scott has created over TORRES’ last few albums. Even when singing in more subdued tones, Scott’s voice is fervent, her lyrics stirring and unyielding as she draws from both the divine and the everyday.
It’s also the first TORRES record produced solely by Scott. After having shared production duties on her first three albums, the latter two alongside PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis, she found the process liberating: “I made exactly the record I want, and it feels very ‘me.’”
Silver Tongue fastidiously chronicles the impulses that make up desire—from the dreamy first blushes of infatuation through the slightly terrifying wonder that accompanies connection with another. In between, Scott wrestles with the highs and lows of what “being in love” might mean over heady guitars and swirling synths. This is immediate in album opener “Good Scare,” which details the courage one finds when chasing the person of one’s dreams: “When you said you couldn’t swing it, you gave me a good scare for a minute there / I had never seen that look from you before / You were eyeing all the exits.”
While potent vocal hooks punctuate songs like the sparkling “Dressing America,” which combines New Wave glitter with hovering frustration, and the brooding “Good Grief,” which gently pokes at the idea of fetishized sadness, the knottiness lurking underneath reflects Scott’s real-time processing of her emotions while making the record.
Sarah Jaffe is set to embark on the next chapter of a career a decade in the making with her 2017 release Bad Baby. An exercise in collaboration and artistic confrontation, Bad Baby’s origin story is rooted in willed, hard won conception. Bad Baby took time and it took work, like all good things.
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