St. Vincent may have started as an “Actor Out Of Work,” but she has since propelled herself into critical acclaim and mainstream recognition. Annie Clark, her real name, may be selling out venues on her Digital Witness Tour; however she has done anything but sellout with her most recent material.
Her newest, self-titled album is less than a month old but has already drawn much attention, receiving an 89 on Metacritic and debuting at No. 12 on Billboard charts. The New York Times called it “meticulous and deranged.” Pitchfork said it was her “hardest, tightest and most confident record to date.”
It’s clear that the new album is well-perceived, but it’s also weird — much weirder than anything Clark has done before and boldly so.
Clark collaborated with David Byrne of Talking Heads to release “Love This Giant” in 2012, and the impression he left on her is apparent in “St. Vincent,” particularly the music video for “Digital Witness.” It features several common themes present in previous videos of her work: groups of people dancing to her mechanical rhythms, soft color palettes, extremely close up shots. This time the video is set in a vast corporate-styled universe that feels empty yet claustrophobic, very much so reminiscent of Talking Heads’s “Once In A Lifetime” music video. But while the video comes off as distant, the lyrics reflect some of her most personal and open work. The lines “This is no time for confessing / I want all of your mind” stick out the most from “Digital Witness” as they represent Clark’s newfound delivery. Instead of a confession she has worked up to, she has opened up herself allowing the truest forms of expression to seep through tracks.
The opening track “Rattlesnake’ acts as a memoir depicting her transformation fully. As stated in the opening lines, Clark was wandering the west Texas desert naked in attempt to connect with nature until she came upon a rattlesnake. In terms of her music, she stripped herself completely down before connecting with her most primal senses and running with it.
Her physical appearance has gotten more eccentric as well. From adorable bob haircut and sundress to bride of Frankenstein with a higher voltage. In an interview with NPR she describes the look as “near-future cult leader,” and judging by the recent hype, she isn’t far from that status. St. Vincent recently appeared at SXSW.
Clark said to The New Yorker that her new self-titled album “feels like a debut,” hence the title. The songs still share a similar quality with previous releases but differ in that they feel less restrained and proud. Playing at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix seems like quite the leap from Crescent Ballroom during her last visit, yet accurately depicts the amount of fine art that went into her new work. From bar to playhouse, Annie Clark’s style is accessibly weird and coyly exhibitionistic.
St. Vincent is playing at the Orpheum Theatre tonight at 8 p.m. with touring support from Noveller.
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