It was 2010 when I first witnessed the power of Annie Clark. I stumbled onto her after the release of her sophomore album, Actor, but didn’t know what to expect from a live set. There was something about the way she could quietly and sweetly croon while throwing her entire being into a guitar, stiffly dancing away. But anyone with any sense of love, loss and darkness knew that there was something deeper to the mysterious force that is Texas-raised Clark.
Hers is an artist’s alchemy, where stage presence and music collide into surreal transcendence, even more evident in her recent self-titled release, St. Vincent. The progression of her image and sound has gone hand-in-hand since her stint with The Polyphonic Spree and her evolving, nearly-twee persona. The now platinum grey Clark has brought her own version of conceptual art to the music she was already so close to making.
The Talking Heads-esque electrifying quality of St. Vincent is notably due to the influence of her 2012 collaboration with David Byrne, Love This Giant. Pop brass and midi chorals bring themselves to the front on singles like “Prince Johnny” and “Digital Witness.” But the outstanding quality of her new album is the cultural theory and witty lyrical styling that is perfectly resonant to her artistic growth and aesthetic.
The track “Every Tear Disappears” opens: Every moment I struggle I’m deeper in the pit/ If I can show a hand, I can show a fist/ Call the 21st century, tell her give herself a break. Clark mixes her personal fears into the social constructs that create the facets of our everyday world.
Still keeping to her roots with heavy multi-instrumentals and guitar solos, the music remains accessible while still offering commentary on things like the Internet’s social impact and her own personal fears. Referencing authors and political activists like Joan Didion and Huey P. Newton, there is something revealing and expository about this album. St. Vincent is in the midst of a very intuitive dialogue with herself. You, by some stroke of great fortune, have been invited to listen.
Photos courtesy of Renaud Monfourny and Tumblr.