It’s rare for an artist to produce their finest work as late as their fifth album. St Vincent has managed it.
The American art-rocker born Annie Clark has over the last six or seven years sporadically been captivating, challenging, left-field, thought-provoking, radical, intense and whimsical. On this stellar self-titled album, she is all of those things at once – and many more besides.
Musically – and it is amazing how rare it is to say this – she is her own genre. Her forte is alternately mellifluous and staccato electro-pop, but she is equally likely suddenly to unfurl a scree of dense, agitated fuzz guitar (a skilled multi-instrumentalist, she plays pretty much everything). And then there are the words.
“Another ordinary day, take out the garbage, masturbate,” Clark chirps at the start of Birth In Reverse. Digital Witness ponders the paradigm that some people live only for social media. “If I don’t show it, you can’t see me.” The sultry ballad I Prefer Your Love could be Madonna in her eighties pomp. It’s radio-friendly, until Clark opens her mouth: “I prefer your love… to Jesus.”
St Vincent could be a less one-dimensional Lana Del Rey, a more soul-searching Siouxsie Sioux, a teasing Kristin Hersh essaying electronica. And the best thing: every time you play it, you will hear something new.