Annie Clark, the woman better known as St. Vincent, has been busy since her 2014 eponymous record. Activities like fronting Nirvana– to directing a horror film– to even serving tacos. But upon listening to her latest effort, MASSEDUCTION, it’s clear that most of her time was spent crafting a fucking amazing record.
My expectations were high given that all three singles (“New York,” “Los Ageless” & “Pills”) were all superb. With the bar that high, MASSEDUCTION still manages to clear it easily.
St. Vincent has filtered the genres of rock, R&B and funk through a space-age sound, as the intro track “Hang On Me” reminds us with the refrain of “‘Cause you and me/ We’re not meant for this world.” The record is too good for this plane.
The electropop setting gives all the songs propulsion and makes every turn an unexpected surprise. This is on full display with “Pills.” The song’s addicting hook, reminiscent of a tUnE-yArDs joint, is accompanied by a nasty guitar and gives way to sonic mellowness and sweet saxophone playing in its second half.
There is so much fun to be had with this record, like when she channels1999-era Prince on the title track. Its intoxicating hook (“I can’t turn off what turns me on”) channels sexual danger and fun like no one has since the Purple One’s peak (even with a dirty guitar solo to boot!).
Most of the tracks have a pop-song tightness to them. There are multiple hooks, melodies, and guitar lines that beg for repeated listens. And you’ll want to do it, too. This could be attributed to Jack Antonoff’s involvement on the record (god damn does this guy– work– a lot– A LOT.)
What helps ground MASSEDUCTION is its piano ballads (“Happy Birthday, Johnny” and “New York”). The latter is more dynamic sonically and sounds even better in the context of the record. These tunes slow things down and allow Annie Clark to work in confessional songwriter mode, which she nails. They stir up memories of a loved one whom you’ve fucked over multiple times and you still miss them… wonderful.
The record climaxes with the electro rock clash “Fear the Future” and the arena-sounding “Young Lover” before coming back to earth with the Kate Bush nod “Slow Disco.” I would love to write more about this album, but you should listen to this record to find some surprises.
MASSEDUCTION is one of those records that is a culmination of years of work, an album where a great artist has evolved into an exceptional one. Miss Clark has truly earned her Saint moniker.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Hail Mary’s for St. Vincent
Suggested Tracks: all of them… okay, okay if it’s three, “Masseduction,” “Fear the Future,” and “Young Lover.” Check out the singles, too; they’re great.
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