Female singer-songwriter Annie Clark's music rewards focused and repeated listens but still remains accessible to more casual listeners. Her sophomore album "Actor", in my opinion, is the most rewarding of the three currently out.
St. Vincent (Annie Clark) is one of those artists that write deceptively complex songs that don't seem to stick in your head on first listen. Each song is that one where you think, "Ah, it's this one" - but before you know it the song has lapsed into a bit of whimsy that you had forgotten about. The crunchy bit that you thought was on a different song comes out of no where and sends a shiver down your spine.
The complex song arrangements and different musical elements - from indie, rock, pop, jazz, classical, are all held together by Clark's lush voice and her expansive lyrics. The album itself isn't overwhelmingly dark, but you get a sense that there is just a hint of menace lurking under the surface. It really ties together nicely, especially when you start to get a grip of all the elements after a few goes round. The playful nature of the album definitely betrays its intentions on the first few listens.
My favourite track on the album is "Black Rainbow", Clark paints such a vivid picture with the lyrics here. I find myself visualising a none existent music video when i listen. The song starts with a fairly standard structure, whimsical sounding but with a slightly foreboding feeling, but the end turns into an ever rising wall of crunching crescendo that seems to have no end - it gets me every time. (Crunching crescendo... sounds like an epic chocolate bar).
Other highlights include the driven "Actor Out Of Work" with its tight vocal harmonies and fuzzy guitar. The willfully dark "Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood", which sounds much brighter than its underlying lyrics. "Marrow" with it's wonky guitar riffs, crazed bridges and harmonised backing vocals. "The Party" has such a deceptively simple arrangement it makes composition seem easy. A simple but precise bass provides the forward momentum whilst the piano holds everything together, topped off with rising harmonies and orchestral flourishes.