Since her last solo album Strange Mercy back in 2011, Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, has released a collaborative album with the legendary David Byrne Love This Giant and signed to a new record label, Republic Records. On her new solo offering, the talented acclaimed multi-instrumentalist sets out to make an LP that is unlike anything her contemporaries are putting out. The gap between solo albums and working with Byrne has made this critics’ darling bigger and better.
Album opener ‘Rattlesnake’ begins with quiet electro beats, similar to that of Ray of Light era Madonna. Clark’s lyrics then discuss taking off her clothes at the side of the road, before the song fleshes out with bigger electro sound effects and a catchy “whoa whoa” hook that ultimately ends with a southern sounding fuzzy guitar solo, the work of an art-rock pro at her best. Track two ‘Birth in Reverse’ was the first song to be released from the album the end of 2013 and was a brilliant taster for the album. Along with track seven ‘Regret’ its fast paced drumming and the funky guitar throughout, make St. Vincent start to sound more like a female companion to James Murphy at the height of LCD Soundsystem’s critical output.
The haunting ‘Prince Johnny’ feels like a Lana Del Rey track stripped of its lush strings and given a shot of personality, as she tells the tale of a self-destructive person. The second single ‘Digital Witness’ is one of the more accessible pop moments on the set with lyrics commenting on the obsession with social media and ‘selfie’ culture. It is the one of the songs that clearly demonstrates the impact of recording and touring with the ex-Talking Heads band member David Byrne. The horn section throughout is similarly used on their collaborative efforts and the layered vocals for the chorus makes you wonder how great the track would sound with David’s vocals added. With a strikingly colourful music video for the song released before the album, it shows St. Vincent’s new style and confidence which has already attracted many views on YouTube and blog posts.
Threading the beautiful ballads like ‘I Prefer Your Love’ and the album closer “Severed Crossed Fingers” to the more edgy moments like “Rattlesnake” is Clarke’s wonderful crystal clear voice that can adapt to any style and sound she sings against so effortlessly, making album number four her strongest and most consistent. With a tour already lined up 2014 looks set to be another busy year for the artist.