I have to admit, I am coming into St. Vincent‘s music as a casual listener, and this is entirely my own fault. It is down to the fact that I fine Annie Clark‘s material quite hard work, and that is in no way a bad thing – I am just lazy. However, I have decided to change all this by giving St. Vincent an informed listen seeing as it is now available via stream on NPR.
No one around so I take off my clothes/Am I the only one in the only world urges Clark throughout the course, electronic blasts of synth and seething guitar of albums opener Rattlesnake. It’s an unconventional and abrasive little track, shaping the self-titled records’ overall intensity from the get-go. The simple guitar progressions and wholly infectious chorus of the partially gritty Birth In Reverse has a touch of all-girl-rock-band-from-the-00s about it. Its blasé retrospective of small town American monotony and bleak adolescence touch on Clarks childhood as one of eight children growing up in the Dallas suburbs, so it’s unsurprising that Clark has chosen to touch on the subject in arguably the most radio friendly track on the album.
Prince Johnny and I Prefer Your Love feel like ballads reminiscent of a somewhat contorted and deformed Lana Del Rey number; boasting imagery of Pinocchio, Jesus and the Andes, to name a few. According to Rolling Stone “The lyrics “Huey Newton,” came to her during an Ambien-induced hallucination in Helsinki involving the slain Black Panther leader” which bizarrely, makes sense but is not at all what I got out of it. It does pose the question as to quite how much of the album was written by Clark’s subconscious. Just for the record, I thought Huey Newton was something about binary code, but perhaps I’m not listening hard enough.
Viral hit Digital Witness stands out and serves as the central high point of the complicated and ever engrossing record. It sums up the brazen, dark and unhinged attitude of the music, which is underlined by the mise-en-scène of the video. Bring Me All Your Loves feels like a manic episode full of feral imagery and empty desire, while Psychopath is the calm after the electric storm, posing as the only obvious ‘love’ song to make an appearance.
St. Vincent is animalistic, progressive, wholly individualistic. Gothic romanticism meets cerebral new age, daring you to think beyond the confines of what you thought you already knew about Annie Clark and St. Vincent’s music. Severed Little Fingers is a grizzly end to a complex record of psychedelic imagery and bold musical experimentation. It’s not one for casual Sunday listening, but definitely one for nights when you need to leave reality behind.
St. Vincent is released 24th February.