ST VINCENT – ” Masseduction “

Posted: December 1, 2017 in ALBUMS, WE LOVE
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Masseduction, St. Vincent’s fifth solo album, is a neck-snapping magnum opus. Though dark, it avoids the kind of overdone, maudlin doom and gloom that mopes instead of shocks; it’s the most conceptually perfect and perfectly constructed album in a whole catalog incredible albums. Every second and noise is accounted for, but it’s not so stuffy that there isn’t air to breathe. Rather, the fester of drugs, fame, loss, sex, indulgence and suicide found on Masseduction are strained through Annie Clark’s signature clever grin. While other artists attempted high-concept album roll-outs in the last year, none did so as successfully or cohesively as St.Vincent’s Masseduction — in part because her themes are vital in our current cultural conversation. For her first album in three years, Annie Clark dissects sexuality, power dynamics, and fractured identity in an industry embroiled in assault and harassment. And though she addresses the loss of control head on, she asserts her own power and control without ever presuming either can be had. Masseduction is defiance writ large by exploring reality’s smallest and most pervasive pains.

Read through the write-ups on St. Vincent’s brilliantly Kubrick-esque new record and count up how many times the male producer of this record is mentioned. It is a weird level of ignoring the endless work St. Vincent has done cultivating her sound. From her early days in Polyphonic Spree to the perfect pop of Strange Mercy to that psychotic record with David Byrne to the new album Masseduction her most succinct statement, like it or not — St. Vincent has willed her vision into life. “Los Ageless” is her best song too. Well, that’s probably “Year of the Tiger”. But “Los Ageless” is her most succinct song, it’s her most well-executed song. It soft and delicate in its delivery while still being thrifty in its layers.

“New York” may be Annie Clark’s finest ballad, and the competition for that title is stiff. Her 2014 self-titled LP alone offered two credible contenders: “Prince Johnny” and “Severed Crossed Fingers”, the latter song being that masterpiece’s crowning achievement. But in an album packed with errant pop extravaganzas, “New York” stands in stark contrast as Masseduction’s grand and naked centerpiece.

Apart from a soaring gospel chorus, what makes “New York” so remarkable is its thematic plasticity. Is Clark lamenting the end of the early-aughts NYC music scene, recently documented (to great acclaim) by Lizzy Goodman? Is she mourning the death of David Bowie? Is she addressing her breakup with Cara Delevingne? The answer is, of course, all of the above and beyond.

“New York” is a classic composite song that, in the right light, fits this or that narrative. Which is to say, it’s universal, an elegy for many occasions, a multi-faceted opus. Choose your own adventure. But it only soars so high because Clark’s shattering melody can easily bear such a heavy burden, with weightlessness and might.

Los Ageless

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