Sound Advice: St. Vincent (Jan. 11)

Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) brings her arty Indie Pop to Taft Theatre.

Jan 9, 2018 at 9:56 am

click to enlarge St. Vincent - Photo: Nedda Afsari
Photo: Nedda Afsari
St. Vincent
“Pills,” the catchiest song on Annie Clark’s Pop-centric latest album as St. Vincent, is also one of her most alarmingly self-referential. Clark delivers the following in a clipped, staccato vocal that’s worlds away from the rather traditional falsetto found on her 2007 debut, Marry Me: “I spent a year suspended in air/My mind on the gap, my head on the stairs/From healers to dealers and then back again/From guru to voodoo and voodoo to zen.”

“I was trying to hold on,” Clark said of the song and her general frame of mind when writing material for Masseduction, her fifth album, in a recent interview with The New Yorker. “I didn’t have coping mechanisms for tremendous anxiety and depression. I was trying to get through pharmaceutically.”

That Clark would have issues adjusting to her burgeoning fame shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Texas native has long lived by the advice she once gleaned from a friend: “The best performers are those who have a secret.”

Clark’s rise from an ace touring guitarist and vocalist with The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens to the acclaimed creator of four conceptually acute and sonically adventurous efforts — culminating with 2014’s self-titled St. Vincent, which won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album — seemed almost too easy. The surprise this time is that Masseduction is simultaneously her messiest and most accessible record to date (no doubt aided by her collaboration with producer du jour Jack Antonoff), one driven by big synths and even bigger choruses.

“It’s all about sex, drugs and sadness,” she told The New Yorker.

Maybe, but the most enduring phrase on her most overtly personal of albums is this: “I can’t turn off what turns me on.”

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