Review Summary: St. Vincent aims for big themes, and sticks the landing for the most part.
St. Vincent is a synth-pop artist from Manhattan, New York. Her stage appearance is very chic, wearing colorful dresses and displaying frayed hair that looks as if it were just thrown up with little else done to it. Her music tends to have the same type of textures also. Mixing a level of abrasive and heavy feelings, while also showing an affinity for poppy and happier tones as well. This self-titled effort is her fourth solo album released since 2006, and it's a solid example of modern pop music.
Lyrically there is a good balance between light and heavy themes in the eleven tracks. Like most pop artists, a major theme throughout St. Vincent's music is love. Songs like Prince Johnny and Huey Newton seem to reference failed past relationships, or in the latter song a relationship that she may have simply imagined. I Prefer Your Love is a slower, love ballad that would fit well in the early 90s with a simple beat and chorus. However, she does attack some other themes, especially American entertainment and fear. Digital Witness and Birth In Reverse are bangers that seem to attack America's obsession with celebrity and specifically the television. Rattlesnake speaks of a fear of being chased by an unknown entity, eventually being found by the snake and being forced to run for your life.
There are some truly great tracks on this latest effort, especially Digital Witness and Severed Crossed Fingers. Digital Witness features a massive horn driven beat that kicks the song into hyper drive from the first second. The lyrics as stated above talk about laziness in the digital age, a television being related to as a window, and humanity's need to witness violence without feeling the fear induced by it. Severed Crossed Fingers is the best track in my opinion. It has this unshakeable 80s pop feel, being about as melodramatic as possible. Despite that cheesy setup, the sound is incredibly rich and the building love story in the song is beautiful to witness. There are some other strong songs too. Rattlesnake is impeccably mixed, featuring a building beat that hits tension as St. Vincent is found by the snake in question. Prince Johnny has the best beat on the whole album, filled with powerful drums and guitars.
However, not all is perfect on this self-titled effort. Some of the songs are slight disasters, especially Bring Me Your Loves and Every Tear Disappears. The former song has a god-awful chorus that repeats itself over and over again. The beat in the song has a great marching drum sound to it, but the background bass is too plain to add any dimension. Worst of all, the track feels like a bad B-side from Alanis Morissette with the iffy vocals. Every Tear Disappears kicks off with an awkward and boring beat, which never builds to anything tangible. St. Vincent's vocals never lift the song anywhere either, only adding to the spotty mess of it all.
Overall, St. Vincent has released a strong fourth album. Her sound is quite different from other artists in her respective genre and possibly more catchy. The lyrical content is strong, the beats can be quite infectious, and there are some truly amazing songs present. However, two or three of the songs are too directionless to mean anything.