ALBUM REVIEW: St. Vincent
Artist: St. Vincent
St. Vincent’s eponymous record is both her most personal and her best yet. Abandoning a tendency for grandiose instrumentation that she may have picked up as a member of Sufjan Stevens’ orchestra-like backing band, Annie Clark strips away the dense arrangements that littered her first two albums in her fourth solo effort to date.
Notoriously protective of her privacy, Clark’s “Rattlesnake” seems a step in a more open direction for the 31-year-old musician. While the jittery synths might inspire nervous foot-tapping, the story that Clark proceeds to paint is more likely to induce laughter. The lyrics recount when Clark, ambling through the secluded landscape of a friend’s West Texas ranch on a beautiful day, shed her clothes in a bid to get closer to nature. Becoming aware of a sound she had taken for the wind, Clark turned and saw a rattlesnake. As she told The Guardian, “I took off running and when I got home had a shot of tequila.”
The frantic guitar solo captures the sheer terror of the episode and is a delightful hint at what comes next.
Morbidly titled “Birth In Reverse” was the first single to be released, and for good reason. After some more humouristic imagery — “Oh what an ordinary day/take out the garbage, masturbate” — Clark reminds listeners that she’s the queen of everything and is not meant to be fucked with. The ensuing scuzzy guitar wizardry is downright nasty and it’s great to see her following in the vein of her wild 2012 Record Store Day releases “Krokodil” and “Grot.”
“Prince Johnny” was the last track to be released prior to the album, and stands out as the most musically and thematically interesting of the trio. Less abrasive than its precursors, the regal track is one that brings listeners back to wasting summer days drifting in someone’s backyard pool. As it progresses through a dense maze of caustic bass and drum pads, Clark’s tender vocals woo the listener into a trance only to jerk them out of blissful reverie with a heavily distorted barrage of guitar.
The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint, with the same facemelting goodness found in tracks like “Regret” and “Every Tear Disappears.”