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Annie Clark as St. Vincent
Posted by: silvergreek from: New York, NY on
The first time you hear Marry Me, the debut album from St. Vincent, Annie Clark’s recording alias, you’re bound to feel squeamish about the swarming, unconventional arrangements she fuses into a highly compressed
pop format. In fact, you might even need some time away before returning for another stint, if you return at all. Ms. Clark’s vocals are often likened to Regina Spektor’s, and her relentless layering linked to that of her ex-cohorts the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, but such broad comparisons only throw her singularity into relief.
Clark’s vocals touch on deadpan, a stylistic choice I’d frown upon if they weren’t so flawlessly sculpted. They end up playing a role akin to the
narrator of a children’s book, guiding us through an assortment of whimsical musical vignettes. The emotional contrasts that her singing withholds allow
for expression to be shown through production and composition craft with dense multi-faceted orchestral pieces to solo piano work. She displays an
elegant musical prowess with every keyboard flourish and biting, intricate guitar riff. Every phrase she plays sets off her aggressive lyrics, which are at
once naïve and blasphemous, as when she entreats “We’ll do what Mary and Joseph did without the kid,” on the title track “Marry Me.”
Styles range from the imperial march of “Paris Is Burning,” rife with Moorish melodies and Baroque brass, to the light-hearted jazz-pop on “What Me Worry?” which evokes Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.” Throughout, Clark manages to preserve her rare and graceful timbre, striding forward
with a refreshing confidence that, musically speaking, leaves me ready to accept the album’s proposal.
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