It is clear that Annie Clark, often known by the name of St. Vincent, has come a long way since her early days, and rightly so. After leaving behind her long-term roles in The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens’ touring band back in the days of 2006, St. Vincent began to receive critical acclaim for the rapid evolution of her solo musical career, showcasing strong, dazzling vocals alongside her talent as a multi-instrumentalist.
The start of 2014 sees the release of Clark’s fourth studio album, an awaited self-titled record that succeeds once again in pushing the boundaries of musical genre and style. St Vincent regenerates the unique melodies that have been associated with her music from the very beginning, providing a familiar treat for the hardcore fans and showing new listeners what she is made of. Alongside a variety of electronic elements, bordering on the line of eccentric, the record boasts clever and upbeat melodies alongside mellow and controlled vocal bliss, making for great songs that can be interpreted as musical discussions of modern struggle.
With this album especially, Clark’s ambiguous lyrical content seems to provide a documentation that is not particularly heavy with emotion but seems somewhat estranged by modern life, a feature that is especially evident in certain tracks. ‘Digital Witness’, for example, feels like a direct attack on contemporary society, a society that has evolved to over-share experiences as a way of measuring the level of their existence as individual people. She also proves throughout this release that her lyrical style can be bold and seductive; ‘Prince Johnny’ is a well constructed track with an obvious level of contempt that only really sinks in after a couple of listens. Despite this, there are the softer tracks; the tender vocals and overall tempo in ‘I Prefer Your Love’ conveniently create a dreamy, ethereal effect in the middle of the album, and gives listeners the opportunity to take a break from the tracks that showcase much of the same electronic drone, should they need it.
That being said, the album is strong and intelligent overall. The public domain currently seems to be dangerously short of female solo musicians that can consistently convey such a strong sense of their own identity within their own material, but this album is proof that such a feat is possible. Never has a record been more appropriately self-titled; the intensity and complexity of St. Vincent seems to be a nod to her own artistic personality by detailing her thoughts and ideals. Not only is her musical style sharp, witty and compelling, but her lyrical ability enables her to write in both an emotive and critical form, a talent that is often under appreciated in great contemporary solo artists.
St. Vincent is out on 24th February, and available via iTunes.