St. Vincent’s fourth solo studio release comes hot on the heels of her critically acclaimed collaboration ‘Love This Giant’ with David Byrne. This album is where the artist feels that she has really found her voice. As such, it is simply called ‘St. Vincent’. A PR machine set the publicity wheel in motion two months ago and as a result she has graced the limelight a little more than usual.
St. Vincent, otherwise known as Annie Clark, collaborated with Diane Von Furstenberg, appeared on Comedy Central to read a terrible review of Sgt. Pepper and wrote an article for the Guardian about why she uses Twitter. St. Vincent has had a busy month and today is the day her album is finally released.
On the album cover, St Vincent is depicted with striking grey hair almost twice the size of her head and a stare that could cut through glass. The cold look is juxtaposed with soft, friendly tones of pink and metallic purple. It highlights one of the consistent traits in her music, whereby she deals with intense topics of love and depression but delivers them with sweet vocals and playful instrumentation.
A perfect example of this is found in Rattlesnake. On the first track of the album, we are invited to revisit Annie’s encounter with a menacing serpent. The playful drumbeat, guitar riffs and vocals are jolting, jerky and lively, vividly repainting the picture of Annie sweating, sprinting naked from a rattlesnake with spasmodic movements.
Birth in Reverse and Digital Witness, the two tracks released as part of the promotional period, continue the upbeat, energetic pace that Rattlesnake initiated. Birth in Reverse begins with what St. Vincent considers mundane ‘Oh what an ordinary day, take out the garbage, masturbate’, while Digital Witness describes her issues with social media.
The bold, prominent horns on the latter could almost be mistaken for a track on ‘Love This Giant’. “Watch me jump right off the London Bridge” she quips. She waxes lyrically about this generation’s obsession with depicting the mundane and profound online, “If I can’t show it you can’t see me/What’s the point of doing anything?”
The next city mentioned on her lyrical tour is found in the foreboding, complex number Prince Johnny. “Remember the time we snorted, the bit of the Berlin Wall that you extorted?” she recalls. It is a slower, hypnotic tune with prominent synths and tantalising vocals that build up in the chorus “So you pray to make you a real boy’” It’s a bittersweet grower, tinged with the juxtaposition of regret with hope. “I want to mean more than I mean to you/I want to mean more than I meant to him.”
I Prefer Your Love, dedicated to her mother, is another standout slow number. Bring Me Your Loves is a good kind of chaotic with standstill pauses, erratic guitar solos and a dark, chanting chorus, before the album is brought to a close with Severed Crossed Fingers.
In the era of playlists and singles, St. Vincent has created an album that will keep you hooked from start to finish. It is a body of work that requires a thorough listening. It hovers between tranquil and lunacy. At times it is the best kind of organized bedlam, driven by vocals, multi-instrumentation and wild guitar solos. In other instances it is eerily serene and mesmerizing.
It seems St. Vincent has truly found her voice in this album. It is slightly more honest, open and less cryptic than previous releases. We don’t give numerical ratings here at GoldenPlec but ‘St. Vincent’ is certainly an album that deserves top marks.