Album Review – St. Vincent – Actor

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actor

“Tell my sister that I miss her/Tell my brother that it gets much easier,” sings Annie Clark on “Laughing With A Mouth of Blood”, one of many tracks on her new album, Actor, that is drenched with this kind of melancholic desperation. Recently, I read a web posting about St. Vincent, comparing Clark’s musical stylings to a twisted version of a Disney musical – a comparison that more often than not rings true. Songs like “Black Rainbow” (the title alone confirms this notion), with it’s gently played assortment of strings and woodwinds progresses merrily along until Clark sardonically urges her domestic partner to “shout even louder” if he wants the neighbors to awaken. A distorted guitar bursts into the mix as the strings begin to build to an eerie, doom-filled crescendo until the song abruptly cuts out.

In a recent interview, Clark remarked “I think desperation is a big part of the record and of the life of any actor. That image (an actor’s work), to me, is like a metaphor for the whole artistic mindset.” And throughout all of Actor (and Marry Me, her debut) we see her touch on this thematic note time and time again. First single “Actor Out of Work” (You’re an actor out of work/You’re a liar and that’s the truth) emphasizes Clark’s fascination with this duality of theatrics – at once inherently false and emotionally true. Each song on the album finds her inhabiting different characters from a desperate struggling thespian (“Laughing With A Mouth of Blood”) to a chronically discontent ex-girlfriend (“The Strangers” with perhaps my favorite line: “What do I share?/What do I keep/from all of the strangers who sleep where I sleep?).

Sonically, each song is so different from the other that, unlike Marry Me whose last half which, though good, was bogged down by its plethora of moderate tempos and general sameyness, Actor shows St. Vincent coming into her own as a solo artist, creating the kind of memorable, fully realized songs that should be especially thrilling in a live setting.

St. Vincent plays at the Southgate House in Newport, KY on June 9th  

St. Vincent – The Strangers

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