By Modesty Sanchez
After graduating from USC and focusing on her music career, 22-year-old Anna Marie Scholfield, otherwise known as Skofee, has released her first EP–and it couldn’t have come sooner. Ripe with tender pop synths and poignant lyrics, Polished is a refined and overall enjoyable listen that navigates circumstances that encourage emotional growth. In Skofee’s case, said circumstances were the recriminatory and increasingly distant reality of her relationship, most clearly shown through the album’s first track and lead single, “Fantomlimb.”
This song is a heartfelt portrayal of the emotional anguish that accompanies the realization that the object of your affection is no longer yours; that they’ve somehow slipped out of your grasp and fallen out of love with you. The deeply emotional pop synths of the track highlight the sensitivity of the song’s topic, while lyrics like, “Pretending you’re mine makes me selfish,” highlight how self-interrogative a confusing situation like this can make someone.
As the track continues, despite creating so many beautiful memories with the person you love, an abrupt shift in their mannerisms and a depletion of their affection is often enough to cause you to reexamine your previously happy and contented relationship. Skofee, herself described the song perfectly when she said, “It details the feeling of longing for someone who isn’t there for you in the way they once were, emotionally. Reliving the best parts of a relationship which no longer exist, while catering to the needs of someone who has fallen out of love with you.”
This train of thought continues with the tracks “Polished and “Bleach.” In both songs, she is determined to be everything her partner needs, even if it comes at her expense. In “Polished,” she cites a few of her flaws—a nicotine addiction, an emotional disposition, and a proverbial state of messiness and disarray—as the cause of her relationship’s dissolution. She strives to be polished and clean, thinking if she can “bite [her] tongue when there’s gossip, if [she] was a godsend, would [her partner] like that?” The last chorus is a perfect culmination of her frustration, as she earnestly asks her partner if polishing herself would even be enough over an intense medley of background instrumentals.
On “Bleach,” she promises to “forget what [she needs],” and begs her partner to “pour [them]self right into [her], bleach [her] eyes / bleach [her] mind of all [her] dreams.” Lyrics such as these show her desire to become exactly what her partner desires for their love in return. She recognizes her “flaws” in the hope that her partner will purify her and exalt her of her defects, until she is nothing more than a blank slate, waiting to be reinvented into the girl of her partner’s dreams.
“Polished” and “Bleach” highlight her misguided belief that her flaws are impeding her ability to make her partner happy, causing her to berate herself for not being able to overcome her supposed defects.Throughout both songs, she takes the blame for every minor mishap or inconsequential misgiving of their relationship––from (poorly) dyeing her hair blonde to his disapproval of her friends (who she later cut herself off from to please him). She is willing to do anything to keep her partner’s approval, and blames herself and her own “imperfections” (rather than the abusive hold her partner has on her) when this desperation results in her own emotional injuries. While taking responsibility when you’re in the wrong is a clear sign of emotional growth, it’s evident that her maturation is being malignantly influenced by her partner’s emotional manipulation.
Not until the third track, “Spiderman,” does Skofee appear to interrogate her partner as well, no longer choosing to solely focus on herself and her alleged ineptitudes. On the track’s visual, a hand (presumably Skofee’s) is extended outward, completely covered in a light purple substance that shines like latex. A spider hangs from the hand’s index finger and the hand toys with it. The spider is the only thing that moves in the scene, going up and down the drop it hangs from, showing the observer that the purple liquid the hand is encased in came from it. Despite the hand’s casual posturing, though, it still plays with the spider, even though it has been completely enveloped in an unconventional web, which perfectly compliments the song’s vibe.
In deceptively calm verses, the track begins with Skofee singing about fond memories shared by her and her partner. These verses transition into sultry pop synthetics, complemented by an almost angry, yet taunting interrogation of her partner; she asks if they remember the excitement she brought to their life and if they think about her (though, it’s obvious from the pointed nature of her questions and her sassy vocals that she already knows they do).
This track is a refreshing instance of Skofee’s emotional growth, as she is now finally realizing that her partner’s obsession with emotionally manipulating her stems from sadistic origins; her partner needs to distract her with deprecating, harmful behavior so that they can continue to gleefully manipulate her. But “Spiderman” subverts this, showing that Skofee’s “flaws” are exactly what her partner wanted not too long ago, that her partner is extremely desirous of her, but it’s too late—she no longer needs them as much as she did before and is fed up with their antics.
The EP’s last song, “Crabapple,” is a defiant, triumphant display of her overcoming her past self-critical beliefs. Skofee begins the song, not by detailing her flaws, but by openly and obviously scrutinizing her partner, which was encouraged by the distance between them (both geographically, as her partner has literally moved miles away from her, and digitally, as she has blocked them and deleted their presence on social media). Said distance, which helped her to retrospectively analyze her relationship, has enabled her to form the kind of polemic that would have been helpful in the peak of their abusive relationship. During one verse of the song, she details an instance where she cuts her hair with kitchen scissors, evidence of her desire to reinvent herself, completely independent of her partner’s influence.
Holistically, Skofee delivers an incredible debut, familiar in its ability to target the paranoid characteristics of an emotionally manipulative relationship, while refreshing in its unique portrayal of the potential emotional growth that can be born out of such hardship. The poignancy of the lyrics is what lays the framework for this spectacular EP, but it’s the alt-pop synths and unconventional beats that brings it all together. If Polished is a sneak peek of what Skofee will bring to an overly saturated, hollow pop-music scene, then I, for one, am extremely excited to see what is to come.
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