sun 21/07/2024

CD: St Vincent - Masseduction | reviews, news & interviews

CD: St Vincent - Masseduction

CD: St Vincent - Masseduction

Annie has her cake while shoving great handfuls of it in her mouth

St Vincent – the subversion continues on the album artwork

It’s easier to admire than fall in love with the music of St Vincent aka Annie Clark. But then again does one genuinely fall in love with a Bacon painting or a Beckett play? It’s just that we’re more used to taking pop songs to our heart, fondly looking back on them as markers of key moments on our lives. Having said that, some love struck couple might semi-ironically play Massduction’s lead single “New York” at their wedding.

It’s resigned hook line, ‘You’re the only motherfucker in the city who can stand me,’ is delivered with such melancholy gratitude that it does evoke an emotional response as well as a knowing smile.

But elsewhere, apart from the movingly direct, “Happy Birthday, Johnny”, we are largely in the land of short, sharp stabs at pop – or rather, stabs in the back of pop. Sentimentality is veered round with a screech of breaks because it’s far more interesting to take rock’s templates and subvert them, introducing the more innovative aspects of hip-hop and dance while throwing in a conceptual art sensibility for good measure.

The claustrophobic “Sugarboy” sounds like LCD Sound System’s “Drunk Girls” partying with Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging” before it all ends in tears and recriminations. “Pills” is a stylistic nod to her sister in anarchic art pop Merrill Garbus (Tune-Yards) with its punk meets warped 1950s musical theatre leanings. At her most histrionic Clark sounds like a demonic Kate Bush robot, but at her most touchingly introspective you just want to give her a hug. The rest of the time that fragile iciness we’re already familiar with (wonderfully played up to with her frozen haired, frozen stare persona in her big budget videos) just about holds everything together. 

On Massduction Clark gives us her all and lays herself bare as only she knows how – through a glass darkly, obscurely and archly – with rigid beats, pulsing synths and coruscating guitar work as her unbreachable castle walls. So is it just admiration again this time? Well, after five plays it’s getting closer to love. Clark is certainly setting a great example to pseudo rebels such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna with her daring if sometimes distancing music. And increasing sales with each new release demonstrates that you clearly can have your cake while shoving great handfuls of it in your mouth, good manners be damned.


We are largely in the land of short, sharp stabs at pop – or rather, stabs in the back of pop


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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