Sunday 9 March 2014

Review of "St Vincent" by St. Vincent

St. Vincent is a Caribbean island, the largest island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is a major exporter of bananas and is known for sporting both white AND black beaches. Its multiracial sands are not the only reason you should visit St. Vincent this summer. Do you like turtles? Why not try scuba diving in the island’s lush, blue waters?

This is a turtle

St. Vincent is also the fourth self-titled studio album by indie pop musician and Theremin player, St. Vincent. Some of you may be more interested in this St. Vincent rather than the Caribbean Island, which is perfectly reasonable since this is a music blog.

Below is a music video, which you can choose to watch if you so desire. Alternatively, you can choose to ignore it. It’s a free world.

Annie Erin Clarke (AKA St. Vincent) has always been a bit left-field - her lyrics consistently quirky, her multi-instrumentalist talents never going to waste. This time she’s decided to really push the boat out musically. The oom-pa-pa trumpets and parping bass in the track included above demonstrate this. Her new sound is a strange and jarring musical experience that might leave an odd taste in some people’s ears. However, the groove is undeniable and Annie’s lyrics, seemingly nonsensical at first, swiftly reveal a deeper context that is fun to decipher.

What, for example, does she mean by snorting a piece of the Berlin wall? Lines like these conjure up absurdly entertaining imagery, many employing peculiar juxtapositions “fake knife, fake ketchup” (so the knife is fake, but the ketchup is actually blood?). Most lyrically bizarre of all however has to be the ballad “I prefer your love” in which she declares “I prefer your love to Jesus”. An anti-prayer song it seems, she is declaring her love for her mother’s advice over that of religious guidance.

Sung emotively over odd Bjork-like mishmashes of instrumentation with an infectiousness and repetition of the likes of Annie Lennox, the lyrics have an abstract feel that is also enjoyably poppy in tone. The freakish circus of sounds never loses its sense of rhythm and songs are kept to a simple and modest four-minute length. In essence, St Vincent is pure, unadulterated art pop. Forget Lady Gaga’s cannibalisation of the term. This is the real deal.