I was three songs in on St. Vincent’s upcoming self-titled LP when I knew it was great. Sure, Annie Clark had impressed me before “Marry Me” and “Actor” were both solid albums, but “St. Vincent” just blew me away.
Clark came out of her shell on this one. Maybe it was recording and touring with legendary David Byrne (Talking Heads frontman) that inspired her to do things a little differently. Maybe that shock white dye job she’s currently rocking fried her brain a bit. Whatever the case, the end result is most pleasing.
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Musically, what sets “St. Vincent” apart from her previous releases is the raw, in-your-face energy Clark captured on this record. Though she’s no stranger to building a cacophonous crescendo, she had a tendency to lean on subdued orchestral passages between sonic explosions.
Not here. Clark made extensive use of synth tones, exploring some funk and even hip-hoppy textures. Just listen to that funky synth riff on album opener “Rattlesnake” for a prime example of what I’m talking about.
Elsewhere, Clark modulates the tone of her guitar to produce out-of-this-world sounds. Take, for instance, “Huey Newton” where, after three of pleasant, laid back synth and drums, Clark drops a raunchy guitar riff that would make even the staunchest metalhead perk up.
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While “St. Vincent” is driven by guitars and synths, it’s the accompaniment that really ties this record together. On the aforementioned “Huey Newton,” the soulful background vocals over Clark’s nasty guitar line really balance the tune. And there’s the funky horn section “Digital Witness” – perhaps a carry over from her work with Byrne on “Love This Giant” – that make the song one of the album’s standouts.
St. Vincent has long been one of indie music’s most adventurous female performers. Her self-titled album, out Feb. 25, is her most adventurous. Her fans are sure to love it, and anyone with a penchant for wildly experimental sonics sprinkled with a bit of pop will go for this one too.