St. Vincent — St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent — St. Vincent (2014)

USA Flag   St. Vincent — St. Vincent

The official logo by B.T. Amundssen´s Tais Awards & Harvest Prize for NOMINATED WORKS 
♠   Annie Clark's fifth album is a taut, meticulous triumph, blessed with a wealth of fantastic songs, ideas and sounds.
Birthname: Annie Erin Clark
Born: Sep 28, 1982 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, theremin
Location: New York
Album release: February 24, 2014
Record Label: Loma Vista/Republic/Caroline International
Duration:     40:12
01. Rattlesnake     3:35
02. Birth in Reverse     3:16
03. Prince Johnny     4:37
04. Huey Newton     4:38
05. Digital Witness     3:22
06. I Prefer Your Love     3:36
07. Regret     3:22
08. Bring Me Your Loves     3:15
09. Psychopath     3:33
10. Every Tear Disappears     3:16
11. Severed Crossed Fingers     3:42
2013 Seven Four Entertainment and Republic Records, under exclusive license to Caroline International

Alexis Petridis | The Guardian, Thursday 13 February 2014 14.59 GMT
Rating: *****
ψ   Five tracks into Annie Clark’s fifth album as St Vincent comes a song called Digital Witness. “If I can’t show it, you can’t see me,” she sings, over a distorted 80s R&B backing, lent a hint of unease by the oddly dense, claustrophobic horn arrangement.
ψ   “What’s the point of doing anything?” It’s a satire on the Facebook generation’s need to document and display their lives, a digital update of Ray Davies’s old suggestion that people take pictures of each other just to prove that they really existed. But it could also describe this album’s promotional campaign, in which Clark has popped up pretty much everywhere, doing pretty much everything.
ψ   She’s appeared at a fashion show celebrating the 40th anniversary of Diane Von Furstenburg’s wrap dress, at which she sang, modelled a version of said dress and told the assembled press that her style icon was Albert Einstein, which at least goes some way towards explaining her recent radical transformation in the hair department. She’s tried her hand at comedy, reading out a one–star Amazon review of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper on a US TV show. Meanwhile, over on teen website Rookie, Clark has been both demonstrating her soccer skills and dispensing big–sisterly advice to her young audience: “You can master things with enough time and effort.” She’s yet to fetch up on Benefit Street, conversing over a can of Kestrel Super with Fungi and White Dee, but, in fairness, there’s still an episode left.
ψ   It all underlines the image of Clarke as a polymath: a woman credited with playing 13 different instruments on her 2007 debut Marry Me; who comes from solid US indie–rock stock — a former collaborator with Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree — yet plays guitar in a way that’s attracted attention from the kind of music magazines that don’t usually have a lot of space for fine–boned, Pitchfork–approved, female art–rockers. Amid the reviews of the Pigtronix War Hog Ultra High Gain Metal Distortion Pedal and the features drooling over Slayer’s guitars (“the most well–known axe is a Schecter signature Damnation model with a ‘blood splatter’ finish”), one such title recently found time to praise Clark for both her “sludge-fuzz blasts” and her “fancy-ass Steve Howe runs”.
ψ   Indeed, if you wanted to level a criticism at Clark’s early albums, you might suggest that she was perhaps too much of a polymath for her own good. There were some great songs, and she had a fantastic voice, but Clark was audibly a graduate of the same more–is–more school as her former collaborators. Those fancy–ass Steve Howe runs had to fight for space with horns, choirs, baroque strings, woodwind: it sometimes felt surprising that the list of 13 different instruments she played didn’t include the kitchen sink. There’s a sense that her solo career hasn’t been about progression so much as refinement. By the time of 2011′s Strange Mercy she’d succeeded in marshalling her surfeit of ideas into something approaching a skewed and hugely appealing take on pop, with the tension between the airiness of her vocals and the corrosive impact of her guitar playing at its centre. This album pulls things into sharper focus still.
ψ   The music here feels taut and meticulous, devoid of self–indulgence. There is indeed some impressively dexterous and angular guitar playing on Birth in Reverse — as people who drool over Slayer’s axes might put it, Clark really shreds — but you scarcely notice it on the first few listens. It arrives in a couple of short bursts at the end of the song, less immediately ear–grabbing than the chorus, or the nagging glam riff that drives the verses, or indeed the lyrics: “Another ordinary day, take out the garbage, masturbate.”
ψ   Relegating your own own guitar heroics to a tiny cameo role is a mark either of humility or confidence. In fact, the most striking thing about St Vincent is how confident it seems: from its title to the opening crunch of distorted drum machine to the gorgeous closing ballad, Severed Crossed Fingers, it feels remarkably sure–footed, the sound of an artist who, when not taking out the garbage or masturbating, has worked out exactly what she wants to do, and furthermore exactly how to do it. It’s tempting to wonder how much her confidence has to do with her 2012 collaboration with David Byrne, Love This Giant, a faintly underwhelming album that nevertheless seemed to confirm Clark’s ascendancy to greatness: it clearly wasn’t intended as a kind of pan–generational art–rock face–off (you can hear Byrne’s influence on the jerky funk and nervous outsider protagonist of St Vincent’s first track, Rattlesnake) but ended up feeling like one, simply because most of its great moments seemed to emerge from Clark rather than the old master of smart–alec rock. More likely it’s down to the fact that Clark has written the strongest material of her career.
ψ   St. Vincent’s 40 minutes offer an embarrassment of fantastic songs: the electronic judder of Psychopath, the sumptuousness of I Prefer Your Love. It feels emotionally lighter than its predecessor — last time around there was a lot of sex, some of it a bit painful in every sense, whereas this time there’s a lot more love — but Clark still comes up with some startling lyrics. Floating along on a kind of synthesised spectral chorus and blessed with the kind of tune you just want to wallow in, Prince Johnny is a fascinating puzzle: it’s hard to work out whether the titular character is male or female, whether or not the song’s narrator has slept with him or her, or how much their affection is tinged with contempt. In fact, the words are often ambiguous — Digital Witness isn’t the only song about the disparity between public image and reality — but they’re the only thing here that is: bold, poised, precise without sounding sterile, St Vincent seems to be a straightforward triumph. Fortaken:

St. Vincent — aka Annie Clark — has been release her self–titled fourth album on 24th February as Ben Tais Award´s NOMINATED ALBUM.
ψ   “one of the albums of the year” — The Guardian / **** Q / **** MOJO
ψ   “The most exciting thing about St Vincent is not knowing what she’ll do with your mind when she has it” — NME
ψ   “some of the most entertainingly perverse electronic pop music likely to surface this year”    8/10 — Uncut
ψ   “Every song bashes together classic pop with new surprises…a brilliant record” 8/10 — Clash
ψ   The record's 11 tracks showcase Clark at her most assured and gripping, as she meshes distorted, aggressive electric guitars and ethereal vocal and synthesizer arrangements on top of an infectious rhythm section and relentless percussion.
ψ   "I knew the groove needed to be paramount," Clark says of the album, which she arranged and demoed extensively in Austin before heading into the studio in Dallas to record. She enlisted Dap–Kings drummer Homer Steinweiss and frequent collaborator McKenzie Smith of Midlake to share percussion duties, while she returned to producer John Congleton to take the sonic potential they'd only just begun to tap with 'Strange Mercy' into dramatic new territory. "I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral."
ψ   The result is Clark's most riveting work yet. "Bring Me Your Loves" is a frenzied freakout, but even less frantic tracks like "Severed Crossed Fingers" still deliver her trademark blend of the beautiful and surreal. At the heart of all her music, though, lie larger questions about what it means to be human and the ways in which we seek to find meaning in our lives. "Regret" catches her at a moment of immense vulnerability, while "I Prefer Your Love" may be the purest expression of affection she's ever written. "Digital Witness" tackles identity in the era of Instagram, with Clark singing, "If I can't show it / If you can't see me / What's the point of doing anything?"
ψ   The album follows her last solo release, 2011's 'Strange Mercy,' which was called "one of the year's best" by the New York Times and "something to behold" by Pitchfork. The record cemented her status as one of her generation's most fearsome and inventive guitarists, In 2012, she teamed–up with David Byrne to release the 'Love This Giant’ album to critical acclaim.
Musical style:
ψ   Clark's music has been noted for its wide array of instruments and complex arrangements, as well as its polysemous lyrics, which have been described as teetering between "happiness and madness". In response to this, Clark has said, "I like when things come out of nowhere and blindside you a little bit. I think any person who gets panic attacks or has an anxiety disorder can understand how things can all of a sudden turn very quickly. I think I'm sublimating that into the music."
ψ   In addition to guitar, Clark also plays bass, piano, organ and theremin. Her music also often features violins, cellos, flutes, trumpets, clarinets and other instruments. Her unorthodox musical style has been characterized by critics as a mixture of chamber rock, pop, indie rock, and cabaret jazz.
ψ   As of late 2011, her electric guitar pedal board included the following: Korg PitchBlack, DBA Interstellar Overdriver Supreme, ZVex Mastotron Fuzz, Eventide Pitchfactor, Eventide Space, BOSS PS–Super Shifter, Moog EP–2 Expression Pedal. All her pedals are controlled by a MasterMind MIDI Foot Controller. She frequently plays a 1967 Harmony H17 Bobkat electric guitar.

St. Vincent St. Vincent (2014)