INDIE ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Annie Clark (AKA St. Vincent) is very hard not to like. Her voice has a natural honeyed grace and she sings with commanding cool. Even if she sounds austere or aloof, it just makes you yearn to understand what fills her vision. Then there’s that guitar playing. On St. Vincent,Clark dishes out malfunctioning robot riffs (‘Birth In Reverse’, ‘Bring Me Your Loves’) and tearing groove metal breakouts (‘Huey Newton’), elsewhere manipulating the six-string apparatus into a distorted church organ (‘Regret’) or a flaring synth bass (‘Rattlesnake’).
Understandably, these startling abilities could very easily be too much to tame. Indeed, St. Vincent’s three previous solo LPs contain several moments of unquestionable greatness, but there’s an unevenness to them.
However, on St. Vincent Clark sounds completely in charge of her considerable arsenal. The record explores an unpredictable range of moods, expresses touching emotion and upholds disarming sonic excitement without ever sounding like a struggle. Tracks such as the sincere and airy ‘I Prefer Your Love’ and schizophrenic Human League-becomes-Queens of the Stone Age number ‘Huey Newton’ possess such involving importance that taking a moment afterwards to digest what you’ve just experienced feels appropriate.
But as soon as the next song kicks in, you’re transferred into another equally gripping universe.
St. Vincent is out now on Loma Vista/Caroline.