by Evan Miller
Artist: St. Vincent
Album: St. Vincent
Label: Loma Vista
Watching Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent)’s artistic progression through the years has been quite a show. Since her debut LP Marry Me in 2007, her music has grown more complex, more wry, more aggressive and more forward. This is made evident by the first line of the first track, “Birth in Reverse”, to come out from her new self-titled album: “Oh, what an ordinary day / Take out the garbage, masturbate.” As shown by the rather intimidating-looking cover art (in comparison to the inquisitive face on Marry Me), Clark is poised and knowing full well she’s at the top of her game.
Her journey into utilizing more synths and dirty guitar sound to create darker atmospheres in her artful indie pop has also facilitated writing more direct, personal lyrics, as well as her arsenal of abstract, poetic musings she’s kept throughout. In another pre-release track, “Digital Witness”, Clark sings of our society’s current obsessions with social media and broadcasting all of our thoughts and actions (“Digital witnesses, what’s the point of even sleeping? / If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me / What’s the point of doing anything?”) alongside a relentless groove and mechanically-stabbing horn line. The influence of David Byrne, the Talking Heads frontman, with whom she collaborated with for the album Love This Giant, is especially evident there.
Across the span of the album Clark once again shows off her fiery, inventive guitar playing, inspired in part by her uncle, jazz guitar virtuoso Tuck Andress. Her strong vocals, ranging from skillful harmonies to electronically-altered lines, are also on point for this album. Listening to other standout tracks like “Regret”, with its fuzzy stomp verses separated by a flowing chorus, show just how well Clark can put all of her strong points together for a confident result. The tight drums and synths used across the 41-minute span greatly assist Clark, making songs that are tense still groove and pulse.
This album is a welcome addition to her already established line of acclaimed albums, and with her vocals scheduled to be featured on the new Swans album To Be Kind in May, it’s set to be a very successful year for Annie Clark. St. Vincent is currently on tour, accompanied by Noveller (and electronic artist Holly Herndon on select dates), and will be in Cincinnati and Columbus on the 8th and 9th of April.