Annie Clark returns to the musical fray this month with her first solo album since 2011’s Strange Mercy. Better known by stage name St. Vincent – named after a Nick Cave song and referring to the famous Manhattan hospital – this eponymously titled release is an infectious collection of multi-layered and intriguing tracks designed to keep you on your toes, and it’s somewhat edgier and rockier than its predecessor. The album features driving rhythms, twisted beats and really interesting guitar riffs throughout – sometimes punky, sometimes fuzzy, sometimes sparse – but always perfectly placed and executed.
The album opens with ‘Rattlesnake’, a dynamic and energetic endeavour derived from a terrifying real-life experience in which Clark found herself being chased naked through a Texas desert by said serpent. This image is painted not only by the lyrics, but also by the instrumentation – you can really sense the horror and thrill of the chase. Lead single ‘Birth in Reverse’ remains as utterly infectious as it did upon first listen back in December – it stays in your head for days, in the best possible way. The guitar sections are particularly stunning, serving as the driving force behind the track. The sublime second single ‘Digital Witness’ was released in early January and now has a spectacular video to match – it’s a brassy, funky take on the creepy world we live in, where everyone seems to know everything about everyone. The David Byrne influence from the duo’s Love This Giant collaboration is evident – however while it’s clear that working with Byrne has inspired Clark’s own work, there’s so much more going on here.
‘Prince Johnny’ takes down the tempo somewhat and is reminiscent of Strange Mercy as Clark’s haunting melodies visit unexpected places. The bridge of the slick and soulful ‘Huey Newton’ treats us to another explosive guitar riff, complimented by attitude-laden vocals building towards something special.
St. Vincent is an incredibly fresh and exciting record – every track is strong, and nothing feels like filler. From the spacey, Bowie-esque ‘Psychopath’ to the insanely disjointed, electro-tastic ‘Bring Me Your Loves’, it all fits perfectly together and with so much going on, there’s something new to be discovered with each repeat listen.
St. Vincent is out on 24th February, with a Dublin date in the Olympia on Saturday 22nd February. For more details visit her official site: http://ilovestvincent.com/
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