Annie Clark returns as St. Vincent for her fourth, self-titled album. On opener “Rattlesnake,” the first sounds heard are a hiccuping 8-bit keyboard. Clark’s heavenly voice comes in before a rush of electronic drums and buzzing, effects-driven guitars, and synthesizers soon follow.
Clark’s always-noisy guitars in lead single “Birth In Reverse” sound like they could be in a fuzzed out garage-rock, jam. Instead, they have found their way into Clark’s art-pop sound. These distorted sounds make it into “Bring Me Your Loves” and the second half of “Huey Newton,” which feels like she’s channeling adrenaline-filled, Led Zeppelin riffs through effects pedals, making them more hard-hitting.
After the brilliant first half of the album, Clark forgets to bring in these exciting sonic details on the second half, save for the intense “Bring Me Your Loves.” These songs are not bad, and while songs like the accessible “Regret” and the gorgeously textured closer “Severed Crossed Fingers” are quite good, but they do not match the catchy excellence of “Birth in Reverse” or “Digital Witness,” making the album feel a bit top heavy.
Lyrically, Clark is at the top of her game. “Huey Newton” and “Digital Witness” discuss people’s reliability and overuse of the Internet, but while she can at times sound accusing, Clark sympathises with listeners by understanding the comfort the Internet brings. On “I Prefer Your Love,” Clark details her love for her mother and how, despite a religious upbringing, she chooses family over religion — an unusually personal moment for the often distant singer-songwriter.
Overall “St. Vincent” is another stellar album from Clark. She advances her noisy, art-pop style to new extremes while still maintaining her accessibility.