Since the birth of Strange Mercy in 2011, Annie Clarke aka St. Vincent has pretty much been hailed as the next big thing. While her earlier albums didn’t exactly set the world alight as much as the gorgeous orchestral/guitar mindfuckery sound of Strange Mercy, both Actor and Marry Me are important stepping stones towards what I guess could only be described as the creative destruction of Annie Clarke, and the introduction of St. Vincent. Big white hair an’ all.
For you see Clarke has gone all out to create St. Vincent’s most experimental and aggressive record yet. It should have been clear from the two singles Birth In Reverse and Digital Witness that the orchestral sound was replaced by heavily distorted guitars that could easily be mistaken for synths, and mashed into performing these overt, jagged melodies that somehow reach some sort of comprehendable conclusion. Birth In Reverse‘s intense power chords glitch their way through the airwaves and tear apart any pre conceived notion that we’re going to hear another Cruel as it envelopes the entire song (and the entire album) and becomes one of the strong hightlights of St. Vincent.
Digital Witness is a fantastic mash up of frantic horns and an whole host of effects ladened on top of various guitar parts to create an instrumentation that sounds like the tune the internet would hum while it pees. The lyrics talk about trying to find the point to doing anything when you don’t showcase it onto Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, and everything else to do with complaining about the internet age. It’s a great song, easily one of my favourite singles this year.
There’s also a couple of slower paced, more subtle tunes on the record to help bridge a connection between it and it’s predecessors. Huey Newton bares a minimalistic sound which syncipates nicely with St. Vincent’s toned down vocals, and begins to take the listener on a journey of nicely structured song writing with various instruments contributing every now and then before the track turns into this absolute monster. The huge distorted guitar riff takes the song instantly and immediately turns it into the heaviest track on the album, and it’s awesome.
Kudos to Annie Clarke for taking the chance and sticking to making a new record that fully ultilises her skill as a guitar player and showcases her creativity in the craziest way possible. It definitely comes as a surprise, and might sound like the person you didn’t invite, but after telling and performing some of the best material yet, you’re glad it came along anyway. St. Vincent is an experiment and an experience in the slightly insane, but it definitely succeeds at delivering something that lives up to the hype that has gathered up feverishly over the last couple of years.
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