St. Vincent – Masseduction
Annie Clark lets us get closer than ever on the latest St. Vincent album
Annie Clark’s celebrity status has elevated massively since her last album, 2014’s self-titled St Vincent: a direct result of the album’s success, her foray into directing, designing a signature line of guitars built for women and, of course, her high-profile relationship with and subsequent break-up from model Cara Delevingne.
Clark has always explored her sexuality in her music and she continues to do so here: “It’s about sex and drugs and sadness,” and these three topics are covered to great effect. It’s the most honest record we've heard from Clark yet, baring her soul more than she ever has before – on the album’s title track she sings 'I can’t turn off what turns me on,' and on Savior she sings about finding pleasure in sadomasochism.
Pills is unsurprisingly a track about self-medicating, on which Delevingne features singing in an ironic nursery-rhyme fashion, 'Pills to wake, pills to sleep / pills, pills, pills and a good stiff drink.' There are certainly some clues scattered throughout about Clark’s relationship with Delevingne. Young Lover is the most obvious of these, with Clark recalling a time she found her lover in a bathtub after an overdose: 'Oh, so what / Your mother did a number / So I get gloves of rubber / To clean up the spill.'
There are still the same classic St. Vincent fuzzy guitars, electro beats and ambiguous lyrics, particularly on the disco-leaning Sugarboy and the epic Fear the Future but what sets it apart from Clark’s previous albums is the depth of the sadness. Happy Birthday, Johnny reintroduces us to the mysterious John who first appeared on the title track of her debut album Marry Me and who reappeared as Prince Johnny on St. Vincent. 'Only you know the secrets, the swamp and the fear,' she sings, recalling memories of an old friend and an old self with painful remorse.
On the closing track Smoking Section, Clark opens up about her depression and alludes to thoughts about contemplating suicide. It’s a powerful, brutal ballad that ends with a glimmer of hope, as Clark longingly sings 'It’s not the end.' The extremes of emotions are covered on Masseduction: the highs and lows of love, heartbreak and just general life. It is the closest we’ve ever been to Clark, and it’s probably the closest we’ll ever get.
Listen to: Masseduction, Sugarboy