To say Penelope Scott's rise has been meteoric, would be a brash understatement. The college-student-turned-TikTok-sensation had never released music pre-pandemic and yet has gone on to amass over 220 million streams and 3.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify, all without the help of a label. So, what accounts for this rapid, organic growth? In many ways, the answer seems as impossible to grasp as it is painfully simple. Penelope Scott is simply showing the world Penelope Scott.
Much of Scott's music captures a unique Gen Z malaise and self-aware satire. Think of it as the sonic equivalent of meme culture, highly specific and highly contextual yet universal in reach. That's not to say it's without artistic merit. Arguably, how it fearlessly tackles the woes, anxieties, and deranged thoughts of a teenage mind let to run rampant allows it to exist as the truest sonic representation of the Gen Z experience, free of the constraints of striving for commercial success or appeasing social norms. At least, that's the argument Scott's latest EP, Hazards, aims to make.
The closest point of comparison to Scott's heavily-modulated eccentric musings on Hazards would likely be Jack Stauber, another artist whose work blurs the lines between left-field sonic masterpieces and experimental, avant-garde multimedia art. There's a painfully relatable catharsis to be found as Scott hurls herself forward on "7 O'Clock" or "Dead Girls," the latter serving as a delightfully macabre look into her mind and poignant reflection on teenage suicide and the ensuing reaction. Or take "Self Care," a wise-beyond-her-years commentary on the hit-piece commodification of mental wellbeing via external quick fixes.
Hazards is a wholly adventurous piece of music, one that simultaneously thrives as a definitive collection 21st-century think pieces and bold, brash hyperpop fixation. Speaking on her idiosyncratic approach to music, Scott shares, “I would say that first of all, I'm in a very fortunate position right now where I'm able to record and produce my own music without needing the help of a label. Beyond that, I enjoy learning about music production, so even though labels might be able to do a better job creating a polished product, I'd rather do it myself so that I actually learn something in the process. I think that for artists who are more focused on playing and performing music and who are less interested in production, it makes a lot of sense to outsource that work, but that's just not the path that makes sense for me right now. Plus, I really don't want my music to reach people who don't want to listen to it- I prefer to grow as organically as possible."
In its succinct yet sprawling run, Hazards displays an artist at her peak, carving out a niche all her own, while at the same existing as a sonic playground where Scott can explore the full extent of her creative boundaries. It echoes the sense of relentless self-discovery that has defined much of her work thus far, holding a mirror up to herself and the world, capturing the varied, twisted reflections for all to hear.
Listen to Hazards below: