Review: St. Vincent’s “Masseduction” is a step forward for one of pop’s most exciting musicians


Courtesy of Vice Magazine.

“MASSEDUCTION as a whole represents yet another artistic triumph from one of the most interesting artists in music today, and one of the best albums of the year so far.”

Joe Cross, Staff Writer

In the past decade, Annie Clark (known as St. Vincent) has established herself as the apparent heir to art rock pioneers like David Bowie through constantly shifting sounds and an enigmatic personality. Each one of her albums contains a clear-cut aesthetic that’s established through a combination of her lyrics, artwork, and accompanying videos, and the recently-released “MASSEDUCTION” is no different. Evolving from simple, beautifully arranged songs on 2007’s “Marry Me” to the Talking Heads-influenced funk of her 2014 Grammy winning self-titled effort, her latest album sees her headed further in a pop direction, to incredible effect.

Produced by Jack Antonoff, the album resembles previous Antonoff productions like Carly Rae Jepsen’s excellent 2015 release “E•MO•TION” while maintaining Clark’s signature noisy edge, as its addictively catchy title track offers one of her best guitar solos to date.

While it’s St. Vincent’s most pop-influenced album to date, it still would sound out of place on modern top 40 radio stations. Lead single “Pills” is a bizarre, energetic number with a hook resembling a 1950s commercial jingle for its first half, but soon after it slows down, turning into a subdued ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on 2011’s “Strange Mercy.” The song is a stunning experiment, and one of the highlights on an album that’s extremely consistent.

The album is more than just “St. Vincent goes pop,” however, as the lyrics offer considerable insight into the inner feelings of an artist who has never really opened up in the past, and the album also is her most stylistically adventurous. Somber piano ballads “Happy Birthday, Johnny” and “New York” are a stark contrast from the album’s manic first half, while closing track “Smoking Section” offers a haunting, downbeat conclusion to the album.

Another element separating it from other pop music today is the incorporation of instruments commonly associated with other genres, such as the slide guitar, used to great effect on songs like “Savior.” Other times this variety in style doesn’t quite work, with the trap-inspired song “Fear the Future” being the album’s only major misfire.

Despite the fact that it may be her most consistent album yet, it still suffers from the same fault that has plagued every St. Vincent album to date, being that all of its highlights are concentrated in its first half. Still, these are minor complaints, and MASSEDUCTION as a whole represents yet another artistic triumph from one of the most interesting artists in music today, and one of the best albums of the year so far.