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St. Vincent

St. Vincent - 2014

Annie Clark has made an obvious progression through her first four solo albums. Marry Me, (a shout out to Arrested Development), was nice but only a hint at what was to come. (Think Radiohead's Pablo Honey) Her second album, Actor, put her at the forefront of indie-pop/rock and showed her growing not only as a songwriter, but also developing her own stylistic voice. 2011's Strange Mercy had her strongest songwriting yet, and brought her a new level of notoriety. The album made almost every publication's "best of" list and set her up to make another leap in popularity. Enter 2014's much lauded self titled album.... Stylistically the album continues the sound that Annie has been progressing into while touring in support of Strange Mercy. The guitar tones are more affected than she's ever recorded on a studio album. (enough Whammy pedal to make Tom Morello salivate) This is her first album recorded for a major label, which could affect an artist’s writing, but I don’t see that with Annie, because her self-described style straddles pop music with art-rock in a way that appeals to the masses. (or enough of them anyway) It’s similar to David Bowie in many ways, who not coincidentally is one of her heroes. (no pun intended. The line in “Prince Johnny” about snorting part of the Berlin Wall is a wink in his direction) "St. Vincent” is Annie’s most fully realized album yet, because she marries her best lyric writing, her angular and creative guitar playing, her pop sensibilities, and the punk/metalhead living inside of her. (She’s crafted a stage show and image that ties in with the album as well) The general theme of the album, (The album art, stage show, production, and lyrics), is about life in our increasingly digital world. The second single, “Digital Witness”, is the most obvious example of this, but lyrics throughout the album deal with the theme. The character in "Prince Johnny” “prays to all to make him a real boy”. “Huey Newton” mentions being “entombed in the shrine of zeros and ones”. Much like Strange Mercy, the first two singles from the album are the catchiest songs on the album. “Birth In Reverse” is the uptempo rocker that gets you pumped for the rest of the album to come, and “Digital Witness”, with it’s infectious, funky, horn riff is the perfect juxtaposition from the angry guitars of “Huey Newton” right before it. My favorite two songs on the album are actually the less obvious ones. The third single, “Prince Johnny” is amongst Annie’s best lyric writing. I’m intrigued by the the character, who sounds like a real asshole. He sleeps around “All with sons of someone” in some sort of self-affirming attempt to “make him a real boy”. Annie’s character wants to “mean more than I mean to you”, and so she “prays to all to make her a real girl”. The understated guitar on this track is almost easy to miss, but one of my favorite guitar performances on the album. It’s simple, but perfect for the track. Track 6, “I Prefer Your Love”, is a standout for the performance itself. The lyrics are a love letter to her mother, and it comes through in the emotion of the track. The album is not perfect by any means. “Huey Newton”, while being a great track, has weak and tinny sounding drums during the rocking second half. Like Strange Mercy before it, the album is top heavy. The big hook-filled singles are loaded on the first half of the album, leaving some of the lesser songs for the second half, which makes the album drift out instead of continuing to build. “Psychopath” and “Every Tear Disappears” are the two weakest tracks on the album in the 9 and 10 slots. The album closer, “Severed Crossed Fingers” is a decent track, with some of Annie’s traditional lyrical imagery. (think “Laughing with a mouth full of blood”, from the Actor album, vs. “Spitting our guts from their gears” on this track) I also love the line, “Seeing double beats seeing one of you”. That track, with it’s mid-tempo feel, is at a disadvantage with those other tracks as a lead in. If the rocking, “Bring Me Your Loves” was right before it, the end of the album flow might have been better. Overall this is a very strong album, and another progression for Annie as an artist. It’s not a five star triumph that some review sites are making it out to be, but it deserves to be on the year end lists that it undoubtedly will make it onto.

Posted by Tambe

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Comments

This is why this site is great. We have a four star, two star and soon to be ' ' star review of this album. Nice review. Made me 'review' (hah!) my take on it but alas, we stand miles apart on this one.

Posted over 5 years ago by MoiAndrew Scott

It's not the first time we've disagreed!

Posted over 5 years ago by TambegifTambe

This is the worst of all her albums. This is one of the worst albums of 2014 due to the huge disappointment factor. This would be a top ten choice only if every album in 2014 was disqualified from being in anyone's top tens of the year except for ten specific ones - this being one of the ten. Even then it would #10. The only other person who actually likes music who would give this album four stars would be a deaf person who had never heard it.

Posted almost 5 years ago by MoiAndrew Scott

So you liked it?

Posted almost 5 years ago by TambegifTambe

Posted: 03/09/2014

Review by:

Tambegif

Tambe


Tambe ranks this as the
#6 favorite album of 2014

Rating: