The new St. Vincent album is pretty great. Though it somehow manages to be great in a pretty boring kind of way. I guess what I mean by that is the self-titled St. Vincent isn’t really a noticeable leap forward for singer/songwriter Annie Clark, in that it mainly sees her continuing to hone the same glitched-out art-rock sound that she displayed on 2011’s Strange Mercy. Nonetheless, I think at this point Clark is such a unique and confident performer that I’d say it’s great just to hear her doin’ her thing, even if we already have a pretty good idea of what that thing is.
I suppose the biggest difference this time around is that Annie Clark seems like she’s in a bit more of a stable headspace than she was three years ago. We don’t get quite as many of the emotional freak-outs (lyrically or sonically) that we saw on Strange Mercy, and overall the album sounds a bit more stream-lined. Still, this doesn’t mean the album’s vibe is at all complacent, as there’s a constant questioning of the indistinguishable line between technology and reality that seems to run through a lot of the lyrics. Which is more than apt subject matter for a performer who appears to be cultivating the look of some sort of sci-fi supervillain.
Even with all the conceptual artsy mumbo jumbo that seems to be attaching itself to St. Vincent these days, it’s nice to see that the songs on St. Vincent are usually quite personal and deeply felt. “Birth In Reverse” has a mundane day-in-the-life quality despite it’s stomping pop melodies, while “Prince Johnny” feels like some sort of ode to a long-lost friend. Then there’s my favorite track, the album-closing “Severed Crossed Fingers”, which would probably come off as paranoid and uncomfortable if it wasn’t so effortlessly beautiful.
Favorite Tracks: “Birth In Reverse”, “Digital Witness”, “Severed Cross Fingers”