St. Vincent
All Born Screaming


4.0
excellent

Review

by hamid95 USER (11 Reviews)
April 29th, 2024 | 42 replies


Release Date: 04/26/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Annie's home

As much as the discourse might give that impression to new listeners, Annie Clark has never been a David Bowie type. Although her trajectory since her self-titled way back in 2014 has focused on highlighting conceptualized aesthetics, she’s not a chameleon. What initially made St. Vincent a project worth paying attention to was the idiosyncratic flavor of rock and pop that only Clark could do. And, you know, for being a really skilled and inventive guitar player. This isn’t to say that “Masseduction” and “Daddy’s Home” didn’t have their share of great moments, but the plastic dominatrix and 70s New York sleaze personas rarely transcended the musical cues inherent to them. Rather, the effect was of surplus getting in the way; references, interludes and promos ultimately bagged down the whole of each release. If there’s one consistent thing to remark on, it’d be her queasy relationship to ‘authenticity’ and the ‘personal’ in music – despite facets of both having trickled through her entire career.

This is why it’s somewhat of a surprise that with “All Born Screaming” we arrive at Clark in her most direct and solid form. Gone is super producer and friend Jack Antonoff, and Annie dons the role herself to tweak and toil away in the studio. It shows. Lead single “Broken Man” isn’t just a back-to-basics roarer, but also a considerably sharper and meticulous sonic experience than the smoothed-out mixes of “Daddy’s Home”. It’s arguably the most aggressive track she’s put out since record store day gem “Krokodil”, and easily one of the most exhilarating first singles of her whole career. On the delirious love declaration “Flea”, Clark flexes her muscles and reminds listeners that if there’s something she’s devoted to in music, it’s those massive movements of elation that combine pleasure and dissonance. It’s the essence of rock, really.

Thankfully, the album doesn’t signal a reversal to her initial sound, since that would quickly sound tiring. “All Born Screaming” is often a clear homage to 90s industrial rock, with Dave Grohl in tow to boot. But this time, the exercise of paying homage to one's heroes feels looser and less bound to serving an overall conceptual aesthetic. There are interesting turns toward horn-led Bond tunes and even (less interestingly so) reggae. But ultimately, the shifts don’t matter as much because it all sounds like Annie doing her thing: Weird hooks straddling between the sweet and the violent (Sweetest Fruit), precise yet yelpy vocals (Reckless) and the combo of familiar rock motifs with spaced out progressions (title track). It’s great!

And not all hell’s bells either. Some fans might be disappointed that the music isn’t consistently trying to burn down the building like the singles do, but the restraint and airiness of the record work for it. Clark is, after all, known to be a cerebral and reflective person. Occasionally, this overexertion of thinking can be to her detriment, but she keenly saves these moments for the negative spaces on the album. Although it’s not all taut, there’s rarely any filler to be found.

After a decade of reaching semi-mainstream status, delving into various minor controversies, celebrity relationships and albums that reflect a grand-sized potential, it feels like a sigh of relief that we’re greeted with something this uncomplicated. Annie Clark succeeds at being frank with her audience and sticks to it. A release about love and pain, loss, grieving and cataclysmic endings. If the artwork shows her on fire, then the music is her sprinting toward you for a malevolent and loving embrace.



Recent reviews by this author
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Tori Amos To Venus and BackTori Amos From the Choirgirl Hotel
user ratings (107)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
PumpBoffBag
Staff Reviewer
April 29th 2024


1624 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Really great review, this is defo a cut above her most recent output

dedex
Staff Reviewer
April 29th 2024


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6 | Sound Off

gud one Hamid

el_newg
April 29th 2024


2144 Comments


nice review. just gave the album a first listen earlier and I feel very similarly about it. I still liked her previous two records, but this is definitely a return to what I loved about her earlier music.

I've said before that I've thought Annie could do a cool Bond theme, funny we both got that vibe from Violent Times!

Nikkolae
April 29th 2024


6735 Comments


man that opening paragraph alone put into words everything ive felt about her latest output so well, every time i listened to daddy's home i just couldnt get through the whole thing, were as Marry Me and Actor are some of my favourite albums ever, fantastic review.

nickisnotarapper
April 29th 2024


38 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is one of the most succinct reviews I've read in a long time. Really excellent job.



I really like the album (even the reggae track lol), but I was one of the people hoping for more of an aggressive industrial rock record overall (Broken Man is imo the best song on here by a mile).

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 29th 2024


47774 Comments


great writeup. nail on the head

hamid95
April 29th 2024


1211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

aw thanks folks, i tried to reel it in more than i usually do. happy to read your thoughts!



and yeah, broken man really is something. the last track also goes hard.

fogza
Contributing Reviewer
April 29th 2024


10001 Comments


Great insight in this review, really good stuff

Veldin
April 29th 2024


5322 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this all the way thru. Glad Antonoff is off production

deathschool
April 29th 2024


28731 Comments


Haven’t checked a full St. Vincent in a while. The Masseduction tracks I did hear were kinda disappointing though.

Colton
April 29th 2024


15513 Comments


this clears chelsea wolfe so hard

deathschool
April 29th 2024


28731 Comments


Weird thing to point out, but do not go off I suppose

Colton
April 29th 2024


15513 Comments


i mean as far as spooky scary girl music goes

TheArtofTheGanja
April 30th 2024


412 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is her best in 10 years probably

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2024


26419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

AOTY?

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2024


61273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

lol

hamid95
April 30th 2024


1211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It's one of her best, but not quite aoty material

alexslavco
April 30th 2024


204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fine return to form from Annie, Broken Man and Sweetest Fruit are absolute crackers.

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2024


26419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Idk I feel like this is a more confident, mature take on that edgy darksynth faux-industrial shit PVRIS did last year

And I thought that was dope lol

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2024


26419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Darkqueer



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