Release Date: May 5, 2009
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Annie Clark, the musician otherwise known as St. Vincent, projects an aura of eerie perfection-- beautiful, poised, good-humored, and well-adjusted to a degree uncommon for rock performers, let alone ordinary people. She's clearly not oblivious to her disarming qualities. On the covers of both her albums, her wide eyes and porcelain features give her the appearance of a cartoon princess come to life, and in the songs contained therein, she sings with the measured, patient tones of a benevolent, maternal authority figure.
Annie Clark, her of the geographic musical alias St. Vincent, is either a golden-hearted black widow or the girl next door with a suppressed psychotic streak. Harsh descriptors, perhaps, but the only logical ones after being simultaneously swept away and then mugged by her sophomore effort Actor. One would hardly expect the phrase "Technicolor Disney nightmare" to become an overused idiom anytime soon, but it's a good bet you'll see some iteration of it, written or otherwise, in just about every reference to this album.
St. Vincent's Annie Clark is a unique talent; she's as much a musician as she is a songwriter, and both her sounds and her words are delicately uncompromising. She blends rock, jazz, electronic, and classical touches together so seamlessly that it doesn't seem remarkable, and as lovely as her voice and music can be, she's too strange and too smart to be merely winsome.
Review Summary: Actor shows the potential and talent that St. Vincent ultimately holdsAnnie Clark is looking awfully orange lately, and it is certainly not from a spray tanner. Instead, the upcoming indie-rock artist, who goes by her moniker of St. Vincent, wants her face and name out for everyone to see, and her orange cover just might have you craving more than just a creamsicle.
If the portrait on the cover of Annie Clark's first album as St. Vincent, 2007's Marry Me, made lovelorn denizens of the indieverse, female and male alike, forget about Joanna Newsom for a bit and moon over the striking Oklahoman instead, the music behind the face was even more beguiling. Lyrically astute and sonically unconventional, after listening to Marry Me its cover shot came to seem like subversion of a sort: this was a work of substance, not just another album by a mediocrity with a guitar and cheekbones.
Crack, baby, crackWhen Annie Clark—the 27-year-old Texan who performs as St. Vincent—plays live, her small frame is nearly hidden from view by her guitar. Her eyes swoop around under a mop of black hair as she croons, her dreamy retro pop frequently riddled with frantic blasts of fuzzy guitar, her string-bean-legged stomps punctuating the music at its most dissonant.
Back in 1973, Arlo Guthrie made a record about being The Last Cowboy in Brooklyn. But that statement has, for better or worse, proven false. Plenty of dudes are sitting in the meat district right now plucking on an acoustic and listening to their Willie Nelson records, doing their best take on lonesome in the crowded city. And there’s nothing wrong with bringing the country to the city—in fact, there’s some downright classic music that has resulted from just that action.
From out of Texas via a stint in Sufjan Stevens's band comes Annie Clark, and those with the patience for deft songwriting willl want to wait for her..
Following the mild success of her brilliant debut, St. Vincent‘s Annie Clark has since enjoyed a gradual growth of hype towards her new album. Surely, the stunning singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and sometimes member of The Polyphonic Spree received many lonely guys answering yes in response to the title of that album, Marry Me. But nothing could have prepared her for the swirling attention that Actor was going to garner.
Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, plays up the contrasts on her second album, letting her church-choir voice linger on lyrics that hint darkly at themes of violence, sex, and general chaos. The music behind those arresting words takes even more daring twists: Whenever you come across a sentimental string arrangement or a sugary backup vocal here, prepare yourself to hear it punctured within moments by one of Clark’s viciously distorted guitar riffs.
Over smoky piano standout "The Party," Annie Clark purrs: "I lick the ice cube from your empty glass. Oh, we stayed much too late, 'til they're cleaning the ashtrays." Meanwhile, she keeps an "eye on the exit sign, steady now." As on her 2007 debut, Marry Me, the former Texan is looking for a way out of her song, though she makes interesting conversation while there. Her second album is less precious, something attributed to either maturity or a better grasp of the script.