Oh Annie Clark, I think you’re pretty super. I’ve thought you were pretty super ever since 2007. You were this sorta weird and quirky girl that was so way cooler than me. You played the guitar the way I wish I could’ve played. You made each fuzzed-out riff and melody seem effortless, while I’d make it seem like work and slightly(completely)pretentious. You walked that fine line between artistic achievement and pop sensibiltiy. You’re like this bizarro version of the popular girl at school. You could hang out with the jocks and the in-crowd; yet you could also talk about your favorite Siouxsie Sioux and King Crimson record with the goths and prog kids. You came out of the gate like a fully-formed artistic force. There was no mistaking that twinkle in your eye. Marry Me was your introduction, while Actor was your mission statement. You don’t know this, but I saw you in 2009 open for Andrew Bird. I’ll just say this, our Topiary-loving friend didn’t have a chance. He spent his portion of the evening licking his wounds and pretending to be a rock star just to save face from the blistering set you opened the evening up with. Strange Mercy felt like a victory lap, mixed with all the idiosyncrasies and indelible pop finesse you’ve sharpened like a deadly weapon over the last four years. After a David Byrne collaboration that seemed like a match made in a heaven David Lynch would create you have returned with St. Vincent, a self-titled album that shows you in your finest form yet. Okay, I’ll leave you alone now Annie. Gonna talk about your new record.
“Rattlesnake” opens St. Vincent on a funky note, with a sound like a cross between interstellar disco and 80s King Crimson. Annie Clark has made this kind of sound -organic mixed with a processed flair- her calling card. “Birth In Reverse” is a wonky and manic track that sports this great line “Oh what an ordinary day/ Take out the garbage, masturbate/ I’m still holding for the laugh.” “Prince Johnny” is more of a slow burner. Again, she writes these exquisite lines that are both poetic and subversive. “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.” She writes words like a writer, not a lyricist. Broken people looking for love; looking for something to hold onto. I hear a track like “Huey Newton” and could see a St. Vincent and Trent Reznor partnership birthing something quite wonderful. Throughout Clark’s career there has always been this underlying base of industrial barb wire. Halfway through “Huey Newton” the guitar gets this red-lined blow out sound as if it’s about to melt the speakers, while Clark pumps up the attitude and machismo in her voice. It’s a genius track, really. And “Digital Witness”? Her time spent with David Byrne shows in the tight horn section, while the chorus brings up echoes of 80s disco. And her guitar? Reznor, are you listening? “I Prefer Your Love” is a beautiful track written for Clarks’s mom. “I, I prefer your love to Jesus” Clark sings over synth strings and a simple beat. Next to “Marry Me” it’s one of her most sublime tracks yet.
St. Vincent from start to finish shows Annie Clark at her best. Each album she’s released since 2007 has been a progression; an evolution into more of the artist she’s supposed to be. St. Vincent has released one of the best albums of the year, and the best of Annie Clark’s career yet.
And Annie, I think Andrew Bird wants a rematch. It’s the least you can do.
8.9 out of 10