‘Public Void’ is Nostalgic and Fresh, Sweet and Grungy at Once
ziz immelman, arts and culture editor
For the past three months or so now, I have not been able to so much as make a cup of tea without the familiar, catchy, electronic earworm that is emerging musician Penelope Scott’s discography popping back into my head. Penelope Scott’s most recent record, “Public Void”, has been on repeat for me ever since discovering Scott on my TikTok explore page while taking my lunch break at work.
Scott had posted a short video of herself playing a section from the breakout song of the album “Rät.” I immediately was drawn to the vibe she gave off, as she sat casually in her room playing an acoustic version of the song. Her vocals were reminiscent of femme punk bands like Sleater-Kinney and Crass, and her lyrics were caked in so many layers of irony and wit while remaining relatable to me as a Gen Z femme at the same time. After seeing that one video, I was hooked; I had to check out the rest of the album.
Throughout “Public Void”, Scott calls back to events from her life, from recounting the time she found a dead man at the age of seven in “American Healthcare” to being wronged by self-righteous men (or maybe just Elon Musk?) in “Rät.” Intertwined with the little story that each song tells, Scott makes it clear that she is coming from a place of anger and frustration towards American capitalism, toxic masculinity and the hardships of growing up. She does all this through electronic instruments, catchy tunes and clever lyricism.
But what makes Scott’s music so interesting to me is how she manages to tell her messages in her grungy, whiny, style while weaving in a sweet, nostalgic, child-like auditory quality that many online fans have dubbed “Adventure Time vibes,” making for a record unlike anything I have heard in recent years. If one were to read just the lyrics to any of the songs from “Public Void”, they’d likely be shocked at the actual sound, which seems like it could be intentional.
This juxtaposition almost feels representative of how many young people are forced to live in the United States these days. Young people are out on the streets fighting for rights and justice while also just trying to be kids. The amount of activism done online by teens and young adults has been sweeping the web, and while that is undoubtedly a positive thing, these people are exhausted. I think “Public Void” does an absolutely spectacular job of capturing this dichotomy. Scott’s anger is obvious, but listeners also just can’t help but dance when her songs come on.
Penelope Scott’s “Public Void”, as well as her other music, is available on all major streaming services. You also can follow her on Instagram @penelope_creature_scott and on TikTok @worsethanithot. Trust me; you won’t want to miss it.