[sic] Magazine

St Vincent – St Vincent

Try to write a review of the music of St Vincent aka Annie Clark without using the words strange, quirky, eccentric or experimental. Not an easy task since Clark has been a proud pusher of boundaries since the release of her solo debut album Marry Me in 2007. She has also in that time struck up a useful partnership with the ‘Head’ Talking Head, David Byrne and if 2012’s joint effort Love This Giant wasn’t quite what it promised then Clark’s self titled fourth album sets the record straight.

St Vincent is the complete album that Ms Clark has been promising the over the past seven years. There have been occasions in her previous work that it has been a little too clever with songs that sound that they need more work or a slight injection of melody. It is pleasing to report therefore that she has shown more restraint here yet at the same time produced an album that could only be a St Vincent production. The ingenuity of her arrangements remains but somehow more shape and order is present.

The powerhouse funky opener ‘Rattlesnakes’ has a staccato synth line and breathy vocals by Clark and is an ecstatic start. The angular ‘Birth in Reverse’ is not one of the stronger tracks here but the track ‘Prince Johnny’ that follows is a joy. It is almost a conventional ballad for Clark infused with brilliant lyrics not least the observation “Remember the time we went and snorted/A piece of the Berlin wall that you’d extorted/And we’d had such a laugh of it/Prostrate on my carpet”’.

From here on the album gets better and better. ‘Huey Newton’ starts like a slow trip hop song, only to introduce a nasty powered monster riff at around 3 minutes. The brassy single ‘Digital Witness’ is a hybrid of Talking Heads meets Prince slice of funk accompanied with a brilliant video that updates Fritz Lang‘s classic silent film Metropolis. The next song ‘Regret’ is like that very clever pop of the Dirty Projectors variety and a delight to the ears. The crunchy rock of ‘Psychopath’ is hewn from the same cloth as ‘Rattlesnakes’, whilst ‘Every Tear Disappears’ is overshadowed by the album’s standout and concluding track ‘Severed Crossed Fingers’. On this Clark injects black humour into a Bowie-like forlorn tale of love where she ruefully reflects, “Well you stole the heart right out my chest/Changed the words that I know best/Found myself with crossed fingers in the rubble there”

The great news about St Vincent is that this is by far her most accessible album to date. There has been nothing wrong with her inspired eclectic music to date, it is just that Annie Clark’s fourth album finally completes the picture on the jigsaw box and nearly all the pieces fit perfectly.