You don’t need to know that Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) broke up with actress-supermodel Cara Delevingne last year to dig her latest album, Masseduction. In fact, focusing on celebrity and relationship gossip can distract you from what Clark accomplishes here.
Robert Christgau wrote this about St. Vincent’s 2011 album Strange Mercy: “Adele and Gaga watch your backs, lest she take art-rock pop.” Clark seemed to do just that with her 2012 David Byrne collaboration Love This Giant and especially her self-titled 2014 album. However, those estimable releases now feel like warning shots to Masseduction’s A-bomb.
Without compromising her knack for experimentation, Clark pushes her music to new heights of accessibility. Her high flutter and crystalline enunciation have never sounded more beguiling. The same goes for her offhandedly dexterous guitar her quirky beats and tunes.
Clark doesn’t soft-pedal the acerbic streak in her lyrics either. If anything, she seems to make her songs more sardonic in direct proportion to their increased catchiness. Consider the cute, funny, quietly unnerving chorus to the bumping track “Pills:” [LISTEN]
Lana Del Rey, eat your heart out.
But even though Masseducation doesn’t reveal or require any specific biographical details, it’s tempting to wonder whom Clark might be singing about or to. This is especially true with “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” in which Clark calls herself out by name: [LISTEN]
Which brings us back to Delevingne. Is she the “Young Lover” whom St. Vincent finds passed out on unpronounceable drugs? Or the one she wants to punish when she goes to the edge of her roof in “Smoking Section?” It’s hard not to imagine Clark thinking of Delevingne as she sings the chorus to “Los Ageless:” [LISTEN]
Of course, Clark would probably tear you a new one if you ever asked her questions like these. It’s just as well—with an album this tantalizing, you should probably do as she says on “Smoking Section:” “Let it happen, let it happen, let it happen.”