A million times better than OK Computer, read the headline.
I didn’t mean it. It just felt grand typing that. Can we still be friends?
Like a robot sprung to life. Imagine a Pinocchio cyber-girl in the year 2056.
Self-titled new release by St. Vincent is a display of both songwriting chops and exquisite studio wizardry. Once you break through the glassed sugar coating of melody in this album, you’ll find yourself enjoying an endless search of sonic Easter eggs that never seems to let up. There is a dangerous amount of pop prettiness here, but running the risk of playing it too pretty has never seemed ballsier. This is a brilliant artist at the top of her game, using her hard earned and hard found own unique voice and signature to tell us new stories, like the time she took her clothes off in what sounds like a corn field thinking she was by herself only to find a rattlesnake… wait, did she even talk about this to her analyst?
Alright, you know what? With St. Vincent I’m going to let YOU be the one to discover the lyrics, is that ok? I don’t want to ruin any of her outstanding material by putting it out of context, or by misunderstanding it, or understating it, or misunderstating it, let me just say how genuinely funny I find most of the bits, engaging as stand-up comedy, yet a lot weirder than a regular laugh. She’s the girl who will tell a weird joke while on stage, leave an awkward pause, and then say: “I’m still holding for the laugh”.
Upon a first listen, I was kind of worried that all that mint-condition-Barbie-doll production was getting in the way of St. Vincent’s sensuality, when it suddenly dawned on me: this is a beautiful half-organic / half-robotic universe, where blues, rock, pop (hell… even prog!) and all other influences are always interpreted, arranged and filtered through the lens of this sort of living artificial intelligence. But wait! That doesn’t mean Ms. Clark has in any way abused technological cliché, such as the infamous Cher auto-tuning excess that sounded so great in 1999 before everybody got hooked on it and it started feeling as dated as pasting samples of “I Dream of Jeannie” to a house beat and calling it house music. Ok, no. What I mean to say is that there is true sonic exploration here, an awareness of trends that carefully tip-toes around them, hinting at global phenomena, but never giving into any flash-in-the-pan sort of trick. Maybe the advantage of never being fully in-style is never going out of it. Whatever the landscape, St. Vincent will always feel as an outsider. This is an exploration of the blurry boundaries between participating in the drama of life and remaining an observer. This is not to say St. Vincent ever tries to hide her humanity, she just likes to put it behind an Anthropology exhibit glass, as if reporting to her alien commanders on the experience of inhabiting an homo sapiens body on planet Earth.
Not sure if this record would ever make my “desert island” list. But I’d sure miss it while running scared from the local fauna, thinking: “if only I had gotten the bigger iPhone before hopping on that trashy airplane”.
Words: Air Nest Vera.