Thursday, February 20, 2014

St Vincent: "St Vincent" (album review)

God bless David Byrne.  I've always found Annie Clark (aka St Vincent) to be fine.  I was neither here nor there about her.  But her collaboration with the former Talking Head Byrne has unleashed something within her.  The result is the astounding new album St Vincent (out February 25th).

Clark has a reputation as a guitar virtuoso, but that instrument plays more of an accent role on the new record.  In the spotlight instead are electronic effects, synthesizers, and drum machines.

The choppy electronics on the opener "Rattlesnake" are oddly moving.  Literally.  They will physically move you.  The New Wave influence of that song pop up again on "Digital Witness", which sounds like the Dap-Kings on Ecstasy playing Talking Heads covers...and it's delightfully liberating.

The guitar as accent can be heard clearly on "Birth In Reverse".  It's sounds like a Strokes-type garage rocker laid with painstaking precision atop a big beefy beat.

An out-of-place, but nonetheless strong cut is "Huey Newton".  The song slithers along, ever so slowly working itself into a terrifying Gothic thunder.  Unpredictable swirls and beats turn "Bring Me Your Loves" into an honest to goodness rump-shaker.

There's a warmer pop sound to tracks like "Psychopath" and the closing number "Seven Crossed Fingers".

Sure, there are some experiments that miss, but they tend to be the ones that don't push the envelope far enough.  The bland Bjork-y ballad "Prince Johnny" is a prime example of that.  The melodramatic "I Prefer Your Love" takes itself far too seriously.

Thanks to it's bold, forward-thinking, and fresh presentation St Vincent should quickly establish itself as one of the standout albums of the year so far.

St Vincent plays NXNE in Toronto on June 20th

Best tracks: "Digital Witness", "Bring Me Your Loves"

Track listing for St Vincent:
  • Rattlesnake
  • Birth In Reverse
  • Prince Johnny
  • Huey Newton
  • Digital Witness
  • I Prefer Your Love
  • Regret
  • Bring Me Your Loves
  • Psychopath
  • Every Tear Disappears
  • Seven Crossed Fingers

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