North Texas Daily

Review: “St. Vincent” is daring and eccentric

Review: “St. Vincent” is daring and eccentric

Review: “St. Vincent” is daring and eccentric
February 26
22:53 2014

Matt Wood // Staff Writer

With kinked, gray and feral hair and a space-age dress, St. Vincent looks like the new queen of the Death Star on her new album’s cover.

The Dallas native’s fourth album, simply titled “St. Vincent,” embodies this futuristic image in its sound, filled with swelling synths, volatile bursts of guitar and, on occasion, spacey ballads.

St. Vincent, whose real name is Annie Clark, toured on a collaboration album with David Byrne for about a year, after which she vowed to take a month to unwind.

That lasted about 36 hours, after which she immediately started writing new songs for her new album, she said in a interview.

Components of Clark’s previous albums are all present in her newest release, with a few new twists thrown in. She keeps her sharp lyrics, but adds in horns and a choir of backing vocals.

The album is daring and eccentric—a perfect distillation of Annie Clark.

The album’s first track, “Rattlesnake,” tells the true story of Clark going for a nude jaunt in the Texas desert. When she encounters a rattlesnake and flees, the music and lyrics capture her panic as she sings, “running, running, no one will find me.”

The eyebrow-raising nature of the story only adds to the enigma that is Clark. Her perplexing behavior and the unexpected turns in her songs create a style of music that is uniquely her own.

The album is frontloaded with the best songs on the album, but unfortunately the second half feels weaker in comparison. The songs are by no means bad, but don’t have the same punch as tracks like “Birth in Reverse” and “Huey Newton.”

The latter is also the best song on the album by a significant margin. “Huey Newton” starts with utterly beautiful, crystalline sonic moments that show off Clark’s superb vocal range and talent.

But about midway, Clark stomps on the distortion pedal and rips a hole in space and time, as she sneers and growls over a monstrous guitar riff.

The song’s lyrics begin with a collection of nonsensical words, “cardboard, cutthroat,” and “fake knives, real ketchup,” which emulate the flood of advertising and images we are bombarded with daily.

When she brings out the second half, she calls to our addiction to technology, singing that we’re “entombed in the shrine of zeros and ones.”

Clark remains self-reflective on herself and society throughout the album, with songs like “Digital Witness” drawing attention to our fixation on television.

St. Vincent is coming to Dallas on March 14 and after seeing her recent performances, it looks to be a terrifying sci-fi spectacle. Expect futuristic costumes, bizarre dance moves and the possibility of Clark being abducted and taken to her new home planet.

The good and bad

+ Brings in new instruments to St. Vincent’s sound

+ Songs are incredibly catchy

+ Science fiction album cover

Second half loses punch

4 out of 5 stars

Key Tracks: “Huey Newton,” “Birth in Reverse,” “Prince Johnny”

Feature photo: St. Vincent’s latest album “Digital Witness” was released on Feb. 25 in the U.S. Photo courtesy of St. Vincent’s Facebook page. 

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