She looks likes a goddess with the chemical equivalent of “don't touch me” in her veins, sings like a choir girl on the verge of madness and shreds like her fingers grow back daily. She's also a Grammy-nominated artist, fronted Nirvana at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and her fourth studio album was named NME's 2014 album of the year. By HANA EHRHORN.
Annie Clark, better known by her stage name St. Vincent, is one of the most prevalent forces in music right now. Her self-titled album debuted to critical acclaim at the beginning of last year, and since then she has been keeping audiences over-excited and terrified around the globe.
This is not to say that her music is dark. It's more like if Baroque and pop music had a child, and that child was psychotic. In the most wonderful way.
But Clark is not new to the music game. St. Vincent is her fourth studio album under her stage name, but she has also recorded an album – titled Love This Giant – with music legend David Byrne of Talking Heads; toured with the Polyphonic Spree; collaborated with Bon Iver for Breaking Dawn Pt II and appeared on The National's record Trouble Will Find Me.
As if that wasn't not enough, she's also appeared on Saturday Night Live and Portlandia, been sampled by Kid Cudi, and was managing her aunt and uncle's band, Tuck & Patti, while she was still a teenager.
When you're first introduced to St. Vincent's unorthodox sound, you start off confused and then become completely entranced. In response to critiques of her auditory aesthetic, Clark has said:
“I like when things come out of nowhere and blindside you a little bit. I think any person who gets panic attacks or has an anxiety disorder can understand how things can all of a sudden turn very quickly. I think I'm sublimating that into the music.”
And that she is. Her music demands attention, like a whip-crack at times. Her drastic leaps from clean to distorted, erratic key changes, not to mention her completely brilliant and bizarre lyrics (“Remember the time we went and snorted the piece of the Berlin Wall that you'd extorted” – Prince Johnny, 2014; “You're a supplement, you're a salve/ you're a bandage, pull it off” – Actor Out of Work, 2009) will keep you engaged, and possibly fry a small section of your brain with their complexity and genius.
Her songs are all so layered that you can listen to them over and over and still find yourself surprised by new elements. Essentially, if you've been looking for something different, this is it.
Key tracks for a St. Vincent introduction; Laughing With a Mouth of Blood (Actor, 2009), Surgeon (Strange Mercy, 2011), Cheerleader (Strange Mercy, 2011), Prince Johnny (St. Vincent, 2014) and Digital Witness (St Vincent, 2014).
St. Vincent is playing Laneway Festival on Monday 26th January, and her self-titled album will be re-released in deluxe format next month.
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