Review Summary: I can't turn off what turns me on
Annie Clark, the multi-instrumentalist behind the music of St. Vincent, is revered as one of indie-pop’s most enigmatic personalities. Over her decade-long run as a performing artist, the guitar-wielding songwriter has drastically changed her image, from the angelic and soft-spoken girl on her 2007 debut “Marry Me,” to the futuristic, silver-haired cult leader on 2015’s “St. Vincent.” On her latest effort, “MASSEDUCTION,” Clark has ditched her previous guitar-laden style for one of synth-driven pop in a wholly distinct fashion.
St. Vincent’s reinvention becomes immediately apparent on the album’s opening track, “Hang On Me,” which begins with a deep industrial beat over a subdued synth-line. This new sound can be accredited to Clark’s co-producer on the project, Jack Antonoff. With 3 Grammy awards under his belt, Antonoff has achieved a considerable amount of clout through his ability to write hits for pop music’s leading voices including Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Also having reached success with his individual bands Bleachers and Fun, Antonoff could possibly be the Midas of today’s musical landscape.
With such inventive production to support her, Clark uses her distinct voice to tell personal anecdotes of her manic life observances. Take for instance, the album’s second track, “Pills,” which dives into the chaos behind prescription drug usage. “Pills” features an upbeat and frenzied chorus of “Pills to wake, pills to sleep/Pills, pills, pills, every day of the week.” Though an exciting and bubbly sing-along, the song simultaneously displays dark undertones, as the lyrics explore the utter chaos of drug dependency. The title track, “Masseduction” utilizes an industrial drum beat reminiscent of 80s synth-wave, in which Clark repeats “I can’t turn off what turns me on.”
Placed in the midst of the album are “MASSEDUCTION’s” two singles: “Los Ageless” and “New York.” The tracks provide an interesting dichotomy on Annie Clark's sentiment toward the two locations. “Los Ageless” tells of a distorted land where “mothers milk their young.” The song’s powerful chorus highlights the explosive and wild nature of the west coast, where Clark currently resides. On the other hand, the piano-ballad of “New York” bleeds with earnest affection for the city and its inhabitants.
“New York is really a composite for me,” Clark remarked in an interview with Song Exploder. Its everybody I love in that song… It’s my whole life in a song”
MASSEDUCTION was clearly a risky undertaking for St. Vincent, as she quite literally upended her previous sound for one of pervading electronic character. However, Annie Clark Has continued to let her brilliance shine through with sincere and candid insights into her personal afflictions and attitudes. In expanding her musical capabilities, Clark’s project draws pop music away from its perceived superficiality and into a realm of ever-broadening creative potential.
Notable Tracks: Hang On Me, Los Ageless, Happy Birthday Johnny, New York