St. Vincent — MASSEDUCTION ANALYSIS & REVIEW
If she hadn’t already, Annie Clark cemented herself as one of this generation’s most creative, intuitive, and intelligent musicians with this release of wonderfully enjoyable songs. This is such an important album for the modern music world to take in for multiple reasons; first and foremost being that it uses all the conventions and musical priorities that today’s astute listeners crave while maintaining a core of stability, sensibility, and simplicity.
Timbre was obviously the most dynamic and experimental element, staying true to the big picture direction of the sophisticated music world and satisfying modern listeners who care deeply about those directions. Clark’s wonderful command and love for the electric guitar, as well as the overall spacious room given to grasping and gorgeous electronic atmospheres, made this a true success in that regard. Many musicians today seem to stop there — they attempt to gratify their audience through a one-dimensional experiment that maintains their direction. That normally results in music being rather weak in other crucial areas, and therefore not as pleasing to the masses as the musician wanted.
Clark didn’t stop at that level of gratification, though, which was ultimately her greatest success on this album. The music was powerful on a personal level, perhaps the most important level of gratification, since this music never sounded like it was written for anyone but the musician. That was a great quality here, since it paired an obvious modern, thought-out, experimental sound with a mysterious air around it that further pulls the listener in. Whether she was conscious of this or not is irrelevant; I review music and not the musician.
This result was accomplished in a rather clear way: intriguing melodies. With every moving part that surrounded each song, the most important and recognizable part was the melodic layer that turned neat sonic exploration into a worthwhile and engaging few minute song. The constant successes of the melodic shape and presence snowballed throughout the album until it abruptly stopped when it was all over, making the listener want to experience the ride over and over again.
This was being done amidst a multitude of different sonic presentations, from the piano dominant acoustics of “Happy Birthday, Johnny” and “New York” to the riveting spatial textures in “Los Ageless” and “Fear the Future”. This album is like a “pick your poison” experience, as every song here is at such a high level of quality and interest, each with the ability to inspire in their own small ways; except for, unfortunately, the title track, which fell melodically and harmonically flat compared to the rest.
The were some distinct moments of a loss in direction or purpose in the harmonic layer given what the rest of the music was doing, and there weren’t enough completely breathtaking musical decisions for this work to reach incredible status. This is still undoubtedly an amazing work, especially given the year it was released. This is a complete gem among the many albums released today that try to gratify specific circles or lose sight of musical fundamentals. It’s rather unfortunate that that’s so rare today, but it makes this album all the more sweet, and certainly one of the best of the year.