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If St. Vincent’s new LP Masseduction has proven anything, it’s that when she speaks, the music world stops to listen.
St. Vincent, born Annie Clark, has long been praised for her boundary-pushing artistry and guitar prowess, but it’s her most recent album that has been gaining major mainstream attention.
Masseduction, which dropped late last week, is Clark’s fifth and most personal album yet, and has somehow taken the singer-songwriter from indie darling to rising music star.
Throughout the 13 songs on Masseduction, Clark grapples with themes of gender identity, love, consumerism and what it means to be a celebrity. The result is an epic yet intimate revealing of the contemporary legend that is St. Vincent, and the simplicity that is also Annie Clark.
For fans who have watched her grow, from her tender indie beginnings to sought-out rock star status, each new St. Vincent album has produced more charisma and allure than the last. It’s hard to imagine there was once a time of just Annie Clark sans St. Vincent.
— St. Vincent (@st_vincent) October 11, 2017
Clark launched her career as a guitar virtuoso long before her alias St. Vincent came onto the music scene. Clark is what is known as an “old school shredder” and toured with The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens before starting her solo career in 2006 and debuting as St. Vincent in 2007 with the coy LP Marry Me. Through four more studio albums and corresponding tours—five if you count Love This Giant, her collaboration project with Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne—Clark has gradually come into her own.
In the decade since her debut as St. Vincent, Clark has achieved some of the rarest honours an alt-rock artist could dream of. She was chosen to perform in Kurt Cobain’s place when Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, her self-titled album won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and critics have compared her to music legend David Bowie on more than one occasion. Not to mention, she’s even tried her hand at directing with the horror anthology XX.
Yet it’s Masseduction’s overtures that stand out most from everything Clark has done before. The album’s announcement, its two music videos and album artwork—everything has been a visual masterpiece bursting with vinyl, colour, neon and plastic. Having traded in her Einstein-style do for a sleek black bob, Clark still brings a touch of grotesque to her new music with her cast of similar bodies and Warhol-inspired antics. Always having a way with words, Clark’s new material lyrically pries eerily into our culture, while the sound remains rooted in retro influences.
Despite Clark’s pristine musicianship, her new album features little of the eccentric energy that propelled her forward in the last decade. It seems a wave of cohesiveness has washed over Masseduction, while everything leading to this was just stepping stone.