By Patrick Campbell
Released February 24th, 2014 - Universal Music
The fourth solo album from Annie Clark who performs under the nameSt. Vincent has been long expected after 2012's collaborative effort with Talking Heads' David Byrne: Love This Giant. This is why when she released the albums first single Birth In Reverse online in early December last year, she worked the Internet into a frenzy. The same thing happened with the release of second single Digital Witness, and now the album everyone has been anticipating is finally here.
The self-titled effort begins with the gritty, electronic track Rattlesnake. A shockingly raw track which assaults the listener demanding their attention as Clark experiments with sounds while she recalls a time when she ran from a rattlesnake in the desert. This track instantly enticed me and will do the same with all listeners, keeping them entranced right until the last note of the raging guitar solo which finishes the track. The first half of the album is filled with the first singles, and the ethereal Huey Newton, all the tracks take the listener on a journey of electronic music that very few artists have managed to master in the way Clark has.
It is not until you reach I Prefer Your Love that you will find a more personally motivated song. Harking on her feelings during a brief period when her mother was unwell, Annie Clark shows her more human side in the laid back, slower love song that compares her mother to Jesus. Whilst most of the first half portrayed the robotic, emotionless persona that she portrays onstage, the second continues from I Prefer Your Love, taking the album to a more intimate level. Whilst there are still the complicated guitar riffs which Clark pride's herself on, the songs deal with personal stories, and they are less forceful in their nature, with the exception of Bring Me Your Loves. This song is like an army forcing you into submission, when she demands "Bring me your loves, your loves" Clark means business.
This album is a beautiful experiment from beginning to end. A change of pace from 2011's Strange Mercy, it shows St. Vincent as a self-confident, motivated artist. While Digital Witness may reference her 2012 collaborative album with its intense brass section, the rest of the album is very much Clark, on her own, showing the world what she has learnt over these past few years. The final song: Severed Cross Fingers sends an emotional message to the listener, that no matter what, we will always have hope. This finishes the album on a note that leaves you wanting to go back to the start and listen over and over. For an artist who is renowned for giving performances that are choreographed so perfectly, and making music that is so exact that you have to question whether she is truly a robot, she has managed to create an album that is just as emotional as it is electric.
St. Vincent is a masterpiece, leading the pack of the most anticipated albums of this year, and if this is anything to go by, it's going to be a good year for music. Even if it isn't, at least we will have this album to keep our appetite for good music sated for the foreseeable future. We can only hope that New Zealand has a chance to experience this album live at some point this year too.