Annie, get your fun
I have to confess that, apart from her 2012 collaboration with David Byrne (Love This Giant), I wasn’t that familiar with the work of Annie Clark before this album. So, I may be completely wrong here, but to my ears it sounds like she is leaning heavily on Byrne’s influence on St Vincent. That’s not a bad thing. Not at all. But listening to the jittery rhythms, the indie/funk crossover, that uber-tight sense of urgency and lyrics so clever that they could attain an Oxford doctorate, you cannot help feel the invisible hand of the former Talking Heads frontman.
St Vincent is a quite wonderful collection of songs, musically flawless across its entire forty minutes or so. In particular, the melody behind Prince Johnny is the equal of anything else we have heard this decade.
The highlight of the album comes with the stunning Digital Witness. It feels so polished, so shiny and futuristic without at any time coming across as unfeeling. Quite the opposite, in fact. Listen closely as Clark bemoans the influence of digital tech in our everyday lives. “What’s the point of even sleeping; if I can’t show it if you can’t see me”, she pleads, a clear critique of the Instagram age.
Whilst the music is what draws you in, it’s Clark’s lyrics that really intrigue. She is a wonderful wordsmith and has no qualms about baring her soul as evidenced on Birth in Reverse where she tells us that it’s an ordinary day – take the garbage out and masturbate. Her words are honest, and would make you blush bright red if you were listening with your mother, but they are also playful, mischievous and great fun.
St Vincent is a tremendous accomplishment. It’s an album that sounds as fresh listening to it in November 2019 as it did on its release in February 2014.