Review: St. Vincent — Masseduction

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 at 2:52 PM
Review: St. Vincent  — Masseduction by Livia Homerski

                                             Rating: ★★★★★

I saw St. Vincent back in the summer of 2014 and knew I was watching a musician with immense presence. The performance showed in her silver hair; it was like she put her fingers in an electrical socket before going onstage. A lot of her performance was booming, yet contained. Not much moved except for her frazzled mane bobbing while her fingers plucked through funky riffs.

Three years later, we saw that same booming energy back, but without restrained reservations. “Masseduction” is a distinguished album for Annie Clark, or St. Vincent, that shows off all the nuanced power she’s been developing since the beginning of the 2010s.

St. Vincent stitches her personal narrative with a variety in her delivery. She offers more than she ever has as a singer on this album. Her vocals have become just as strong as her face melters and arrangement. She growls, whispers and gasps for air at times in the music for a layer of theatrics, which works well for the album and pushes the aplomb.

On the title track “Masseduction,” Clark sings a breathy, “I can’t turn off what turns me on” that has a chilling resemblance to rocker P!nk’s vocals circa 2001, and the beat also reminds me of “Get the Party Started.” A signature St. Vincent grimy guitar lick rounds the song out and brings it back to 2017.

“Pills” was a single released on Oct. 10 and captures the prowess St. Vincent carries on this record. A postmodern mock-jingle, “Pills” contains an ultra-fuzzy guitar effect that destructs the repetition and is featured throughout the album. The bridge unexpectedly transitions into clean guitar with reverb, and the saxophone feature expands the song in many big directions, but it works.

There are some truly tender moments on this album that brings back the humanity, which is mostly showcased in the ballads like “New York” and “Slow Disco.” Classical instruments shine on these tracks with the natural piano clicks on the aforementioned track and warm strings on the latter.

Working with indie pop powerhouse Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers fame has allowed Clark to focus on what she wants to accomplish in her themes and delivery while handling production and other ideas. I think because of her collaboration with Antonoff, this is probably the most polished and accessible St. Vincent album yet. Antonoff is someone who has helped push different progression in the indie-pop ocean and makes waves that reach the shore of the mainstream.

The trend that seems to be inspiring a lot of music right now seem to be sounds from the past two to three decades, especially found in new wave and shoegaze genres. The result is a lot of electronic drum beats and fuzzy, distorted guitar in a light wall of sound. As the music begins to age, current artists, especially in the millennial age bracket, seem to be revising some of their teenage influences from the 90s and 2000s.

St. Vincent is a fierce woman in the world of music, and “Masseduction” fleshes out Clark’s latest layered story-like sentiments in a cohesive, yet varied album. Nearly every song has hooks strong enough to dominate your brain after just a couple listens.

The album is personal and well done, and it knows it. “Masseduction” contains the completeness that other artists in indie pop and alternative rock are striving to attain in 2017.

Standout tracks: "Young Lover," "Masseduction" and "Pills"

Stream "Masseducation" below: 

Livia Homerski can be reached at musics.spectator@gmail.com.

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