Thursday, August 23, 2007

Marry Me, St Vincent



I thought I had an idea of what to expect from the debut album by St Vincent. Maybe it’s the Sufjan connection. Both Annie Clark (for she is St Vincent) and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond have served good quality time as part of Stevens’ touring band, and both now have solo projects not under their own names. So maybe I was expecting something of the epic sweep of MBD’s Bring Me the Workhorse. But although there are some similar reference points, Annie (who has also been part of The Polyphonic Spree) is an artist to confound expectations.

Clark doesn’t have Worden’s soaring voice (though she’s no slouch in the vocal stakes either) and the orchestrated intensity of Workhorse is only there in places on Marry Me. But where Annie differs is in the various directions she heads over the course of the album. She’s obviously a woman who’s spent a long time listening to rich sources of influences, which can be clearly heard, resulting in a diverse and wonderful album.

So we have skewed guitar riffs interspersed though tracks like Now Now which will do well to scare off the Corrine Bailey Rae crowd. We have do-wop start to Jesus Saves, I Spend as well as more ace riffing and synth noises which sound like babies’ chatter. Lips Are Red first comes on like a brooding storm, which then smoothes out into something rich and silky as Annie croons “your skin so fair it’s not fair”. Then there’s the simple beauty of title track, which in employing strings and restrained soul horns is exactly the sort of song that Chan Marshall would give her right arm to have written. Elsewhere we have the lush cabaret-pop of Paris is Burning, light jazzy touches to Landmines and What Me Worry (with the latter more than referencing Billie Holliday), folksy harp in Human Racing (which will no doubt see critics lazily reaching for Newsom comparisons) and All My Stars even approaches the Nashville Sound.

Phew, have I mentioned every track on the album there? Maybe not, but you get the picture. It’s a brilliant record and easily one of the strongest debuts of the year. Maybe even good enough for a few smitten fans to want to take Annie up on the proposition in her album title. Me? well I’m spoken for already.

Download: St Vincent – Paris is Burning
Download: St Vincent – What Me Worry

Marry Me is out in early September, but Rough Trade have got some advance copies in already. Go buy.

St Vincent is also onto this blogging thing, though these days it's mostly been video clips. Check out The Love Letters of St Vincent.

Top photo from Three Pink Monkeys' Flickr.

2 comments:

KD said...

I agree, I think the album is wonderful. She's playing a 'secret' show at The Slaughtered Lamb in London on 5th Sept, with Fireworks Night, an excellent band who have deservedly got some attention here...Should be good.

The Daily Growl said...

I know! I hope to be there!