Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, released her fifth solo album in October, and it was everything we had hoped for and more. Marrying the persistent hooks of her self-titled LP with the tenderness of her early work, MASSEDUCTION manages to find the perfect balance between pop and personal. Highlights include the towering chorus of ‘Los Ageless’, the tender ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’, and the fragmented groove of the title track, over which Clark moans, “I can’t turn off what turns me on”.
MASSEDUCTION is an album that revels in its catchiness. It gets itself firmly lodged in your head, and laughs at your attempts to remove it. But behind the vibrant melodies and buoyant crescendos lies a rueful, embittered core. Clark’s lyrics are deeply personal accounts of fame and heartache, most explicit in the devastating “young lover, begging you please to wake up” of ‘Young Lover’. These bleak topics are often presented in a wonderfully twisted fashion – the chorus of ‘Pills’ sounds like a perverse children’s nursery rhyme. In ‘New York’ alone, St Vincent has undoubtedly produced one of the best songs of 2017 – a heart-breaking, evocative tale of helplessness and loss.
It’s deserving of its place in our list not only because of the quality of the album itself but also due to the promotion that surrounded it. Clark announced the album’s release with a satirical press conference on Facebook Live, alongside a series of spoof Instagram videos in which she answered a range of tiresome interviewer questions. At a London show in support of her new album earlier this year, she performed the LP in its entirety over a backing track. Though she endured a fair amount of criticism for that performance, it is such stunts that make Clark so enthralling. She is an unexpected breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by conventionality. St Vincent is the rock star that we desperately need, and who never fails to produce thoughtful, clever, and, best of all, gloriously catchy music. As MASSEDUCTION proves, she just keeps getting better.
MASSEDUCTION was released on October 13 via Loma Vista Recordings