St. Vincent

Loma Vista, 2017

REVIEW BY: Ken DiTomaso


One of the things I loved most about St. Vincent’s 2007 debut album Marry Me was how much fun it was. While the albums she’s made since then have been great in many other ways, they’ve also never quite recaptured that fresh spark of her first record. Her releases have gotten more serious over the years, and while her playful quirky personality has always been on full display, the music she’s been making has tended to appeal more to the mind than the soul. This album marks a dramatic shift in that approach, coming up with a fantastic balance between the two. I can admire the off-kilter song structures, sound choices, and creative melodies while simultaneously being touched by Annie Clark’s soaring vocals, passionate lyrics, and infectious personality.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This record reminds me of when more artsy bands from the '70s tried to shift into a more commercial ‘80s sound. Most of them tried to adapt and failed miserably, but the ones that succeeded ended up forging a sound that retained elements of both their artistic sides and their newfound more accessible pop approach. And the end result was every bit as unique and great as their sound of the past, if not better in some cases.

Evidence of this successful approach on this disc comes in songs like “Pills,” which swings between two drastically different halves, both of which are terrific in their own right. The first half has an incredibly catchy hook and some off-kilter verses, which are as infectious as they are weird, while the second half opens up into a totally different atmospheric direction that shows Clark’s experimental streak is still as strong as ever. “Savior” with its restrained funk groove and dry guitar tone sounds like it could be a song by Ween, which is always a big plus in my books. “New York” and “Happy Birthday, Johnny” are passionate ballads that really tug on my heart. I won’t lie, I’ve shed a tear or two to these tracks. And “Young Lover” absolutely soars into the stratosphere with some of the most mind-bogglingly incredible vocals Clark has ever delivered, sweeping me off my feet completely.

The title track feels like a total statement of purpose. It’s got an infectious chorus that seems like it’s begging the listener to sing along, while also managing to feel really sexy, danceable, and ever so slightly on the edge. “I can’t turn off what turns me on” works not only as simple sexy wordplay, but also as a grand statement of pride.

It’s a blast to hear an artist like Annie Clark still showing no signs of losing it. If anything, she’s better than ever and Masseduction might actually be my personal favorite album she’s put out to date.

Rating: A-

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