Pick of the Geek – St Vincent’ St Vincent

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If you’re going to release a self-titled album that isn’t a debut, people will expect it to say something about you.  Annie Clark’s fourth album under the name St Vincent certainly feels like someone coming into their own – it’s shinier, more confident and brasher than her previous work, even in its more vulnerable moments.  Where previous albums like 2009’s Actor vacillated between introverted electronica and post-punk thrash, St Vincent restricts the latter to one incredible song (Birth in Reverse) and polishes the former into Broadway-worthy ballads like Severed Crossed Fingers and I Prefer Your Love, the latter a Nothing Compares 2 U for the new century.  On the other hand, this is a woman who David Byrne once claimed he was no closer to knowing after making an album and touring with her, and there is a lot of game-playing about identity in the lyrics, from the social media-age disguises of Digital Witness and Huey Newton to Prince Johnny, an incredibly moving relationship song that reveals almost no details about who the lovers are, or even if they’re lovers.  Ironically, it’s this postmodern ambiguity that makes it so palatable as pop music, because even if the intellectual and autobiographical content is opaque the melodies and emotion aren’t.  Opening track Rattlesnake starts off with a bed of electronic beats and bass and ends in a spectacularly eccentric guitar solo, while Bring Me Your Loves gives Clark’s vocal range and guitar playing a spectacular workout.  It was always hard to credit that she came from Tulsa, Oklahoma; it is increasingly hard to credit that she comes from this planet.

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