Annie Clark as St Vincent has steadily built up quite a name for herself over the course of six albums. She’s gone from indie rock shredding sensation to her current tenure as an electronically driven superstar, capable of filling venues all by her lonesome. She really doesn’t need any backing band at this point, as her recent, brilliant tour proved time and time again. Today I’ll be presenting her top ten songs. I hope you enjoy
10. Champagne Year, Strange Mercy
On Strange Mercy, Clark’s third album, she gets more subdued in terms of energy in spots, but when she wants to turn it down a notch and create a song that's as ethereal and hazy, it’s well worth the listen. “Champagne Year,” nestled in the middle of the record, showcases the atmospheric qualities of St. Vincent, but it’s also slightly melancholy and honest in a way that lures you in. It’s like a memory filled with distant recollections, and in the end, the listener is unsure of whether they were even on hand for the events going through their minds.
9. Masseduction, MASSEDUCTION
On “MASSEDUCTION,” both the album and this title track, Clark abandons her more alternative rock vibes in favor of a more synth, electronically heavy concept, to rousing success. Her voice here is ferocious and wanting, not in the mood for the listener to casually sway their hips. She’s thirsty for power, and it’s a testament to the female prowess that sets this record and it’s stylings apart from the glossy, candy wrapped modern pop. Except, it is modern pop, but done in a way that puts it well above the curve in terms of what is popular or carefully packaged idols in the mainstream.
8. Save Me From What I Want, Actor
Many of the tracks delivered on her records are both sublime and billowy in terms of depth and soundscapes. It’s like day drinking, feeling slightly faded, as the sun blasts your sunglassed face. It’s romantic but also not a pushover. On “Save Me,” from her second record “Actor” St. Vincent interchanges her sultry, cautious vocals with a forceful yet not in your face drum beat. It’s that cautiousness that makes the track all the more appealing, and while it could be described as a call begging for help, it’s more of inner cry for help, as Annie struggles to overcome the tense atmosphere of a cruel world.
7. Actor out of Work, Actor
One of the few intensely upbeat tracks from her whole discography, “Actor Out of Work” is a giant middle finger to her enemies who strive to shut her ideals down, but it’s also an intensely empowering song. The beats and energy here are impeccable and can virtually stand on their own, but it’s the vocals and chaos surrounded by the drums that guitar that make the song the fist pumping anthem it was meant to be. The ending breakdown is something to behold, especially when experienced in a live setting, and it’s for this reason the track finds itself at number seven on the countdown.
6. Chloe in the Afternoon, Strange Mercy
With “Chloe in the Afternoon,” the album’s beginning truly finds its starting point in a way that’s expressly Clark’s doing, The roughness of the guitar bleeding through and making a puddle under your feet, on top of the jingly qualities that keep it entrenched in a place not completely dark, ultimately makes the song a strong companion and lead in for the rest fo the album. Her vocals are able to be lovely and smooth, while also projecting a dark undertone that whispers the next unsure movements of an artist that is ready to excel, even if she’s not sure what the end result will be.
5. Birth in Reverse, St. Vincent
As i’ve mentioned before, this album was truly the first step towards what St. Vincent became with “MASSEDUCTION,” but it still stands on it’s own to feet with full competence and potency. “Birth in Reverse” speaks of the struggle of knowledge in terms of our country’s backward thinking logic, but it also stands as warning shot for all the naysayers who want to believe this type of music can outlast anything in terms of quality. It’s true though. Everything from the murmurings of the synthesizer to the immediacy provided by Clark’s vocals, not to mention her signature guitar breakdown towards the climax, put this song as a turning point for when Clark truly became reckless, dangerous, and truly empowering for fans of bands who truly risk it all for a new, career defining sound.
4. Cheerleader, Strange Mercy
The opening plucks of the guitar on “Cheerleader” only briefly dip into the darkness that's provided by the ominous vocals, but by the time the chorus kicks in, you get the full scope of pain and torment behind the classic song. It’s an anthem for “stupid” girls everywhere who think brains are something that us men simply don’t want. Many females believe this is the way, but in this ultimate fuck you to that construct, Clark smashes that notion and paves her own way to a beautiful, self relying notion that she simply “Doesn’t want to be a cheerleader no more.” It’s a beautiful sentiment about saying to hell with what a different gender thinks you should be, and making yourself the string individual that you want to be.
3. Los Ageless, MASSEDUCTION
Everything about this sonically heavy song, which finds its place at number two in the Top Ten St. Vincent tracks, screams tearing down the walls that hold our culture back. It’s about fighting back, but it’s chorus also touches on that insane type of fixation where a person truly believes they couldn’t be happy if they weren’t with one particular person. It sorta comes off as stalkery, but those moments aren’t force fed through the entire track. It’s almost Dystopian in themes, such as depicting guitar playing ladies forced into cages, but it’s such an aggressive song that it’s easy to not dwell on the lyrics being presented. It’s easily the best exposition on the record, and everything from the vocals, the echoes, the blast beats at the forefront,and the minimal beats you hear faintly, all drive the song to excellence.
2. Digital Witness, St. Vincent
The trumpets, alongside the buoyancy of the opening moments tell you a lot of what you can expect from this fun filled track, but there’s much under the surface that only shows itself upon multiple listens. It’s one of the best tracks on the self titled album, but it also showed that Clark has nearly no problem balancing different style in the same track. It has a very danceable quality to it, but it’s also pushes the bounds of what alternative rock could be, if you can even call it that. This song has been a popular stand out among myself and the people i know, but in the end it deserves it’s number two spot because it’s just a great fucking song. It’s energetic in tone, upfront in attitude, and dishonest in no way shape or form. At the end of the day, it’s an artist trying something outside of her comfort zone, and truly coming into her own as an artist worth watching, and loving.
1. Year of the Tiger , Strange Mercy
This is likely to raise some eyebrows for it’s placement, but since early upon in working on this year, this was the clear cut number one. It’s qualities include, but aren’t limited to it’s subtlety in terms of vocal range, it’s subject matter, but also the dreamlike regret that permeates through it’s length. Her voice never gets immediate, instead opting for a patient walk towards its goal. The musical nature of the song weaves in and out from soothing background in the opening moments to a more dense sounding production as the song veers to it’s closing finale. It works all the better as it’s placed as the very last song of this sublime, transformative record. It’s a song that’s not an obvious choice, but when all the moving parts work so well together, it’s hard to ignore it’s strengths and it power, especially when you’re left contemplating the silence that follows its brilliance. Thanks for reading!
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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