TORRES – Silver Tongue
Mackenzie Scott returns as TORRES with an album that is uncompromisingly her own
Mackenzie Scott’s fourth record as TORRES has been marred by label woes, an unfortunate reminder of the unfair expectations still placed on women who make idiosyncratic skewed pop music. After being dropped from her three album deal with the prestigious 4AD for “not being commercially successful enough”, Scott cuttingly tweeted: “I wish them all the best. Also, fuck the music industry. Xo, Mackenzie”.
It’s depressingly ironic. Three Futures, which 4AD put out, was her most uncompromisingly experimental (and best) record to date. It should have been no surprise, to label executives and fans alike, that it didn’t blow up into something massive – it's a difficult and specific work that, while containing some of Scott’s most immediate hooks, offered no easy way in. The final track was a long-form ambient piece about bodily autonomy.
Now arrives Silver Tongue, picked up by Merge, another label of some renown, and assumedly without the baggage surrounding Scott’s last deal. She began writing it before that pivotal moment, so it isn’t exactly filled with anti-music industry vitriol, even if Scott, alluding to the record’s title, can use her words potently and witheringly. But it was formed out of a period of self-doubt where Scott almost quit completely.
Where Three Futures felt cohesive, Silver Tongue is a little more willing to run the gamut. Entirely self-produced by Scott, she dips in and out of styles previously explored, with call-backs and recurring motifs from as far back as her debut. It begins with Good Scare, one of the most forlorn songs about first love you’ll find – a truly melancholic banger. TORRES has never been a project given over fully to indie rock and singer-songwriter fare. Last Forest’s twitchy drum machine and foamy synths are testament to that.
Scott is adept at articulating the struggles in complicated romantic relationships. On Three Futures' Skim, she sang of jealousy and insecurity: 'Consider the source of your energy / Do you just hate him more than you love me?' On Silver Tongue’s companion piece, Two of Everything, she talks again about being entangled in a tricky dynamic. She seems to come from a place of acceptance, if not understanding, but can still deliver scathing lines, offset by the beauty of her voice: 'To the one sharing my lover’s bed, it’s not my mission to be cruel / But she don’t light up the room when she’s talking about you'.
Silver Tongue may prove to be a bridge, between a time of turbulence and a period of renewed creative independence. However, even in that, this record is proof that she can remain uncompromisingly herself.
Listen to: Good Scare, Last Forest, Good Grief