St Vincent – St Vincent review

This review should have been completed long ago but better late than never? I really did not want to just leave it since there really seems to be a great level of intrigue and excitement about it and her initial tracks off the album look very promising. This is her fourth studio album and her previous three have saw her develop and sharpen her art rock and baroque style and she is not really one for playing it safe and simple. Her self titled fourth effort sees her applying more experimental tools and methods to the genres she has showcased so well already. Given the pattern of her progression so far, you would think and hope that ‘St Vincent’ will be her greatest effort to date.

‘Digital Witness’ starts with quick firing bursts of trumpets and other brass instrumentation while her vocal is detached and sort of out of sync with the brass which leads to a broken melody that is engineered in a great and imaginative fashion as it sounds peculiar and curious. The small and drawn out electronic sounds trickle through the brass instrumentation before flashing into the chorus which ramps up the tempo through the percussion and then through the rapid synths and the washing of guitars over the top. Her enclosed lyric continues the block-like feel that fits all the different elements together in an odd jigsaw puzzle. Amongst this is the various samples and synth sounds clashing at certain intervals throughout the track that are suddenly stripped back; only leaving the brass before being rushed back into the chorus. A simple manipulation of the songs structure used to great effect. ‘Birth In Reverse’ cunningly opens in an out of joint and dragging, drawn out fashion with the drawn out, distorted guitar which suddenly turns into a bouncy and urgent rhythm from the second guitar while the opening, distorted riff remains in the background. The vocal reflects and echoes this to the point which only serves to enhance the transition. The guitars scratch at a higher pitch in the chorus with the synths grinding to the depths of any tone. The vocals are slightly distorted but also very upfront and immediate which keeps the attention of the lyrics. The interlocking varieties of guitar sounds and the heavy bass synth sounds make for a fresh and invigorating sound that has the added dimension of her contradictory vocals. A lot of standard guitar groups could learn a lot from this.

‘Prince Johnny’ has a completely different dimension. Imagine a complete and improved version of Lana Del Ray. She could learn much from St Vincent too it would seem. The simple back beat is joined with haunting choir like samples along with the simple bass line to enhance the other refined instrumentals. Her vocals are sublime in this track as they effortlessly carry the melody and the hook and still keep the focus on the unusual and wonderfully odd lyrics. The chorus only enhances this and the haunting samples behind it. Only brief rumbles of a guitar are needed. It is such an effortless and beautiful example of delivery, recording and production. Slightly humorous, tragic, eerie and fresh all at the same time. One of the best tracks I have heard so far if not the best. ‘Rattlesnake’ opens with bouncing and out of joint synths along with the out of focus but organic vocal that adapts in an out of focus and immediacy depending on the amount of instrumentation around it. ‘Regret’ is a slung back and bold guitar track that St Vincent typically makes her own in the chorus with the strung out acoustic elements and the soft backing vocals that suddenly turns towards highly charged electronic guitars. ‘Every Tears Disappears’ is a magnificent collage of percussion and synths options and varieties that breaks out into a melody over the top of it with pop like vocals at certain intervals. This album is full of about anything you want. No song is linear at all. Each is crafted so meticulously with each detail playing a part to the overall feel of the songs. Unusual and unsettling moments become so familiar and correct. She has also offered a multitude of new ways and progressive slants on what are being seen as dead sounds and instruments. A true masterpiece of this year for sure. I don’t really have to say whether this is her best work or not now do I?

St Vincent – St Vincent = 10/10

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