Polly Scattergood, Arrows
How do you distinguish yourself from your more lightweight electro-pop peers when your name, like Pixie Lott and Eliza Doolittle, conjures up a world of primary-school fairytales? By signing to Mute (home to the likes of Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp and Nick Cave) and making sure your vocal style is more likely to be compared to Bjork or Tori Amos than an X Factor wannabe. Polly Scattergood's whispery, posh-vowel mannerisms are an acquired taste but the perfect fit for her ethereal but brilliantly melodic music. "From my cocoon of angel wings" she sings right at the start of this second album, and that indeed is an apt description for the fragile place her voice resides. Arrows hones her skill for great tunes that combine 1980s synthpop with an understanding of the Abba songbook and Kate Bush eccentricities. The keyboard reference points are more prominent than on her debut (a Human League throb on Subsequently Lost; Gary Numan shadows on Wanderlust) but this bigger, warmer, more commercial approach doesn't dent her credibility.