St. Vincent keeps uniqueness with recent release

St. Vincent keeps uniqueness with recent release

By Sophia Heimbrock, Round Table reporter

Annie Clark’s newest and most popular album, “St. Vincent”, gives new life to the art rock genre. Under the stage name St. Vincent, Clark has already proven that she can successfully meld classical and jazz elements with post-punk sounds on her first two albums, “Marry Me” and “Actor”. With her most recent release, however, Clark goes above and beyond her established abilities to create an ethereal yet jarring sound, this time utilizing synthesizers and choral tracks in place of violins and flutes.

It’s easy to see why Annie Clark isn’t a household name – the first word that comes to mind when listening to her music is “weird.” St. Vincent is, however, perhaps her most accessible album yet. The album’s two singles, “Digital Witness” and “Birth in Reverse”, feature strong downbeats, catchy melodies and repetitive yet interesting lyrics – a tried-and-true recipe for chart success.

Despite her new foray into mainstream pop, Clark continues to let her freak flag fly, keeping existing St. Vincent fans satisfied. St. Vincent’s opening track, “Rattlesnake”, begins with a distorted bass line, while Clark sings in a frantic staccato. The trembling, intense vocals and harmonic dissonance create a distinct feeling of terror – a continuous theme throughout all four St. Vincent albums.

Fans of St. Vincent might criticize this latest release for its normality – and they’d be right. Clark’s previous three releases are far better at coloring outside the lines, so to speak. Her chaotic guitar solos and strange vocal style have set her apart from the art rock fray. And yes, Clark does weave these elements into “St. Vincent” – but the freakiness is slightly lacking. One could compare Clark’s style to films such as “Eraserhead” and “American Psycho” – so jarring and strange that at first glance, it’s difficult to see the beauty in them. With its most prevalent sound being melodic pop, “St. Vincent” falls just short of upholding that legacy.

That being said, “St. Vincent” is fascinating in its own right – and by no means is it conventional. Just by looking at the album art, one can tell that there’s a distinct character Clark is playing on this album. Perched rigidly atop her throne, Clark stares out, unblinking, from the album cover, creating a psycho-cult-leader feel. This is reinforced on tracks like “Bring Me Your Loves” and “Every Tear Disappears”, songs that seem like they belong on a soundtrack for a ritualistic mass suicide.

Don’t let the discord put you off, though – “St. Vincent” also boasts some gentler tracks. With their dulcet tones and simple harmonies, “Prince Johnny” and “Psychopath” provide light contrast to the album’s more punk songs.

Rock aficionados will definitely appreciate this effort by Annie Clark. But even if you’re not into the art rock scene, this album is worth a listen. It’s really got something for everyone – sugary, melodic songs; fuzzed out guitar solos; and even some EDM-esque sounds mixed in. I personally can’t wait to see what Clark will do next as the enigmatic St. Vincent.