Release Date: Oct 13, 2017
Record label: Loma Vista
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
St Vincent‘s fith album comes with a pretty high degree of expectation. 2015’s self-titled record was a career high, full of inventive, thrilling and accessible songs that had Annie Clark’s unique personality stamped all over them. Given it was her best record to date, the arrival of MASSEDUCTION begs the question – can she raise the bar even higher? From the first note of Hang On Me, it’s clear that Clark has not only raised the bar but moved it several notches up.
From the moment St Vincent ‘announced’ her return with a lengthy, note-rustling speech that said very little, the satirical bite of the tongue-twisting ‘MASSSEDUCTION’ has been clear. Embracing this 21st Century world as the bleak tragicomedy it is, Annie Clark’s fifth album ridicules its backdrop (and, importantly, it also sidesteps the ‘Everything Now’ pitfall of mocking its own listeners). It also taps into profound honesty at the same time, carving out a space for the weirdos and the others in a world that often seems hell-bent on erasing the misfits. As with everything she does, ‘MASSEDUCTION’s approach to seduction itself is less than straightforward, shot through a lens of ludicrous absurdity.
This opening track – the apologetic, desperate prologue “Hang on Me” – presents Clark as the restless consumer on a come down, a prologue to the excesses of thought and activity and sex and substance that populate the record. Her voice is uncharacteristically cracked but still hopeful, begging for someone to cling to while everything crashes around her (again): “I know you hate my hysterics / I promise this time it’s different… Just please don’t hang up yet.” Those scanning MASSEDUCTION for the truth might think they’ve found it here – a glimpse of the ‘real’ Clark behind her St. Vincent moniker – and it certainly fits the established aftermath-of-fame story of the record.
If Masseduction is any indication, the success St. Vincent's Annie Clark had with her self-titled breakthrough album -- which included a Grammy for Best Alternative Album, playing with Nirvana at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a long-running, electrifying tour -- almost led to a breakdown. Fortunately, for an artist as keenly observant as Clark, personal chaos counts as professional field research, and on her fifth album she weaponizes the trappings of her acclaim.
Full of glorious contradictions, Annie Clark’s fifth St Vincent album, Masseduction, is leaded with pitch-dark content but sounds so wonderfully joyous at times that it’s hard to feel too oppressed. Touted as her 'pop' moment (the album is co-produced by Jack Antonoff, who has previously worked with pop luminaries Lorde and Taylor Swift), right from the off - with ‘Hang On Me’s pulsing bass and drowsy, sensual synth melody matched by the erotic intensity of Annie’s vocal – it is clear that something special is in the offing. With a palpable honesty, she sings intense stories of lust (‘Savior’, playing erotic stock-character dress-up as nurse, teacher, nun, with an outfit that “rides and sticks to my thighs and hips”; ‘Young Lover’ bluntly admitting: “I miss the taste of your tongue”) and love, but always skewed to the fatalistic, dangerous or gone-wrong varieties.
For some fans, the wait for Annie Clark’s fifth album as St. Vincent started 10 months before its release. “I think it’ll be the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done,” Clark told Guitar World just days before 2016 ended. She certainly isn’t alone in thinking this: shortly after she announced MASSEDUCTION, Buzzfeed and NYLON hailed the album as her best yet. Many long-time St.
If you’re wondering where Annie Clark’s head is at, it’s not hard to dig it out from the name of her upcoming tour: Fear the Future. On her fantastically nervy new album MASSEDUCTION, the musician pseudonymously known as St. Vincent is a restless, jittery pop star for the age of anxiety; an electric hook girl circling the apocalypse. MASS offers 13 soundtracks for sleepless nights and social-media voyeurs, self-medicating and slow discos.
On every previous St. Vincent album cover, you see Annie Clark’s face. On her first records, Marry Me and Actor, the images are simple portraits in front of seamless backgrounds, but as Clark’s music gained complexity and ambition, so did the images. Strange Mercy featured just her mouth pushing through a rubbery, white material, her collaborative LP with David Byrne depicted both artists’ faces altered with prosthetics, and her self-titled major label debut saw her rightfully assume the throne it felt like she’d been working towards her entire career. But on St.
If you've followed Annie Clark's musical project St. Vincent at all, you know that her albums can be somewhat of a rollercoaster ride with peaks and valleys not only in time signatures and tempos but in genres and styles. Her fifth album (sixth if you count Love This Giant, 2012's collaboration with David Byrne) MASSEDUCTION (capitalized for emphasis I suppose) has eliminated most of the valleys resulting in primarily peaks of super-charged electronic rock.
In much the same vein as 2014's St. Vincent, which touched on the invasive ubiquity of social media and how our dependence on immediate validation skews our priorities, Annie Clark brings a borderline-sardonic approach to her examination of modern society on her latest album. The singer-songwriter populates Masseduction with fictional characters and maintains a detached, off-kilter approach to universal themes, focusing on sexuality, gender, consumerism, and objectification throughout, but she does so with a greater level of pathos than we've come to expect from her.
In 1978, the porn mag Hustler ran one of the most infamous magazine covers in history – a woman’s legs sticking out of a meat-grinder. It played on the idea that the publication treated women like sides of beef (something a Larry Flynt cover line disingenuously protested against). Annie Clark doesn’t actually reproduce this specific image in any of the high-concept artwork for her fifth album.
Three years ago, Annie Clark had made it. After years of skitting from scene to scene, her off-kilter sci-fi pop found itself alligned with the mainstream as her fourth LP St Vincent topped countless end of year polls. But with success can come madness. Gigs became unhinged and relationships couldn ….
Mechanical beats and abrasive synths underpinned by producer Jack Antonoff’s feedback-pocked soundbed-of-nails: Annie Clark’s sixth album as St Vincent is not immediately inviting. But it is fascinating, sometimes grimly so, with Clark relating scenes from a relationship with a drugged-up Young Lover. But the frank confessions – of transgressive desire, pathological anxiety and romantic rejection – that pepper Masseduction transcend gossipy intrigue.
Three years ago, Annie Clark sent out an “autumn hello” to her newsletter subscribers. “Last night,” she recounted, “I attended a party meant to celebrate ‘fashion’ where I felt woefully out of place. I, however, am not one to look a gift horse full of champagne in the mouth. So I grabbed a couple and began chatting up the most interesting-looking person in the room.” That night, fame’s gift horse presented her with a retired police officer’s stories about 9/11.
MUCH HAS HAPPENED TO ANNIE CLARK since her eponymous, Grammy-winning fourth album was released in 2014. Firstly, she’s become a star, this year fronting an advertising campaign for Tiffany. Secondly, she’s become a source of interest for the tabloids and the paparazzi, thanks to her relationships with Cara Delevingne and Kristen Stewart. These developments have peeled back a layer or two of mystery from the previously unknowable Clark.
St. Vincent gets called “the female Bowie.” Not always for her music, which has taken off from steady and skillful to expansive and gripping at exponential speed; not for her tributes and eulogies of the man, nor exactly for her gender-tweaking image. No, among the first hits for “female Bowie” is a British tabloid, sweeping her and model and ex-girlfriend Cara Delevingne into a world of “domestic bliss” and “purple loo outfit[s].” Such is the life of a woman whose artistry has been made into snackable content.
Now five albums into her career, Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, has achieved nigh-untouchable status in the world of indie music, something that didn’t necessarily seem predestined back when she released her debut album Marry Me in 2007. Clark’s calling card—all vacant stares and expressionless vocals surrounded by reams of atonal, dissonant pop—has changed little over the course of her tenure, yet she has steadily honed both her craft and her public image to the point that her apparent preeminence has become nearly incontrovertible.
On paper, St. Vincent’s glee-inducing new album MASSEDUCTION shouldn’t seem this surprising. Over the course of four records, Annie Clark has foreshadowed what, in retrospect, feels inevitable. She’s steadily built her case for, and claim to, being our foremost wayward-pop virtuoso.
"MASSEDUCTION," Annie Clark's fifth and unquestionably finest record as St. Vincent, opens on a note of startling sadness. "I cannot stop the airplane from crashing/ and we circle down from the sky," the guitar goddess sings on "Hang on Me" over a sparsely arranged bed of slow-stirring synths, pinioned in the plummeting wreckage of a ruined love and still pleading for a chance to redeem it.
If there’s a rap against St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, it’s that she can be an arty, icy singer who keeps listeners at arm’s length. Her inventive songs prompt distant admiration but not necessarily deep connection. But she drops some of the emotional armor on her fifth studio album, “Masseduction”(Loma Vista), which comes off as not only one of her most ambitious works, but also her most transparent. With co-producer Jack Antonoff (who is coming off projects with Lorde and Taylor Swift), Clark finds new levels of expressiveness as a singer, moving from vacant burned-out whispers to upper-range fragility, teasing femme fatale to sad-eyed lady in the land of the high-rises.
St. Vincent is back with her most confrontational collection of material yet. This much is clear just from laying eyes on the cover of her new record ‘MASSEDUCTION’, which features what Annie Clark has described as a very nice ass clad in hot pink tights and a cheetah-print bodysuit. Forever unpredictable, Clark’s propensity to favour shock value should come as little surprise by now.