Tuesday, May 26, 2009

St. Vincent: Actor

Artist: St. Vincent
Album: Actor
Date Released: May 5, 2009
Genre: alt-rock, singer-songwriter, indie-pop
Rating: 7.8

Nearly two years after her debut album, Marry Me, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) has released Actor, an effort she wrote entirely herself and co-produced with John Congleton of The Paper Chase. Clark plays guitar, bass and keys on the record, but brought in some extra help in the form of Hideaki Aomori (Sufjan Stevens) and Alex Sopp (Bjork).

"The Neighbors" sets in with an unpredictable tempo, and throughout the track synthesizers shimmer and build to create a breathing, shaking sound, feeding the album with a fresh and unique potential.

The slow dancing violin introduction of "Black Rainbow" is seductive and fresh, with a lovely accompanying synth looping throughout the track. The vocals from Clark resoundingly carry while remaining mellow and calm. Towards the end of the track the synth becomes heavier, with the violins raising dramatically, becoming higher and higher as the swift change in sound changes the dimension of the album.

Just under the minute mark, "Marrow" bolts into a stark and uplifting beat, which catches you off guard and naturally makes your whole body jive to the rhythm; it's an excellent example of music changing direction to make you listen. "Party" helps Clark to build on one of her strengths in the shape of her addictive vocals, as a smiling piano twinkles to add solid foundation to the song.

A sumptuous beginning to the final track "The Sequel" involves brass and woodwind instruments which diffuse into acoustic guitar and Clark’s now familiar voice.

Actor cements itself as entrancingly listenable. But for all its moments of joyous unpredictability there are too many average expanses within the tracks, often leading to glorious climaxes cut short. Despite this, however, the album as a whole is a fine piece of work which many will find both soothing and embracing.

Reviewed by Asa Masters.

1 comment:

  1. I love this album.

    I saw St. Vincent and her band last week at the first stop of her tour, and it was one of my favorite live shows of all time. Her dreamy flutes and moody guitar licks fill up a room like nothing else. It was an amazing performance.

    See them if you can.