influence st

THE GUARDIAN: St. Vincent: ‘I’m in deep nun mode’

For years, the Grammy winner was best known for her experimental music. Then dating Cara Delevingne put her in the spotlight. What’s next, asks Tom Lamont?

Saturday 19 August 2017 06.00 EDT

The musician St Vincent, a 34-year-old Texan whose real name is Annie Clark, is talking about body piercings. Though her outfit today includes such exotic items as a leopardskin onesie and a pink blazer made of some sort of wetsuit fabric, Clark doesn’t have any outlandish piercings herself; she just has droll and strong opinions about them, as she has droll and strong opinions about a lot of things.

“Didn’t it always make you laugh,” Clark says, already laughing, softly, in the museum in London where we meet one summer afternoon, “how people in the 90s who had, like, tongue rings? How they’d always make some sort of comment, intimating that it made them, like, better at oral sex? That was the whole wink-wink thing, right? That a tongue ring meant they were kinda kinky? But then, I guess the challenge – because they were constantly fidgeting with this gross thing in their mouth! I guess the challenge became: no one wanted to get head from them.” She hoots with amusement, just loud enough to turn heads in the hushed museum.

Conversation with Clark is like this: a bit unexpected, a bit arch, a bit sexy. She sometimes speaks so slowly and carefully it’s as if she’s reviewing individual words before committing to them. But, as with the lyrics of the songs she writes as St Vincent – always inventive, always making disarming leaps between ideas – you can never predict where her thinking will travel next. Quickly the chat about oral sex gives way to the matter of her own death, and her expectations of a brisk cremation. Before I know quite how, she’s got me talking about an irrational fear of being buried alive. “Get cremated!” she urges.

I ask Clark – who will soon release her fifth solo album, a follow-up to 2014’s self-titled St Vincent – why she suggested we meet in London’s Wellcome Collection, to combine our interview with a tour around the museum’s collection of antique medical equipment. Clark peers with interest at a display of old enema syringes and explains that in every unfamiliar city, “you should try to see something real and strange”. It was something the Talking Heads frontman David Byrne once advised her about touring the world, and she’s stuck to it ever since.

So far I’ve enjoyed the kind of success where I might get a free appetiser sent to my table. But it’s never a main That phrase – “real and strange” – describes Clark’s appeal as a musician. She is a generational talent on guitar, one of those poised, unperspiring types who can do the manually ludicrous while hardly appearing to try. Seen live, Clark’s fingers flit over the strings of her instrument with utmost precision – that’s the real in her. The strange comes via the writing and the composition, which on her four St Vincent albums since 2007 have tended towards the experimental and jagged-edged. Lyrically, she might choose a thing (prostitution, CCTV surveillance, prescription drugs) and then chew it over in repetitive, often anguished ways, before elevating the mood with a sudden joke. “Oh, what an ordinary day!” she sang on a track from her last album. “Take out the garbage… Masturbate.”

Genre labels won’t stick to her. Song to song, Clark might channel Björk then Iron Maiden, then belt out a disco number before pretending to be a fey, shoe-gazing whisper-singer. In the manner of FKA twigs or Héloïse “Christine and the Queens” Letissier, she is a performance artist as much as she is a performer; last year Clark played a gig dressed as a toilet, complete with cistern, protruding bowl and flush. And like twigs, who for many years has been in a relationship with the Twilight actor Robert Pattinson, Clark has managed to cultivate a shadowy, unknowable persona while at the same time dating a wildly high-profile superstar. For 18 months or so, until a break-up made public last summer, Clark was going out with Cara Delevingne, arguably the best-known model in the world.

St Vincent and Glass Animals play in London, February 2014. Photograph: London News Pictures/Rex

In the museum, while leaning over a glass display of clay death masks and shrunken human heads, we discuss Clark’s scaling achievements as St Vincent. From album to album, over a decade, her sales as well as her reviews have improved in happy tandem. The most recent album, 2014’s St Vincent, was her best to date, a wild, raucous thing, written in part during Ambien-soaked nights on tour, that eventually won her a Grammy. “It sounds like a very Pollyanna-ish thing to say,” Clark says, “but my ethos has always been to just make the music that I hear in my head. And I’ve been incredibly lucky, so far, that that’s seemed to correspond to external progress.”

Where does she place herself right now in the music industry? “So far I’ve enjoyed the kind of success where I might get, like, a free appetiser sent to my table,” Clark says. “And that’s awesome, I’m thrilled by that.” She fixes a level gaze before adding: “But it’s never a main.”

A word about her hair. Three years ago, while touring and promoting that self-titled record, Clark had a fantastic and unforgettable do – a triangular mountain of silver-bleached curls that made her look, in her own words, “like a scary cult leader”. I half-expected her to show up that way today, under the same teetering pile of silver, but Clark says the bleach killed off that haircut years back. She had to shear off her frazzled curls, “and then my look was less cult leader, more ‘Why do you have a rodent on your head?’”

She has a flair for naming her own haircuts, having cycled through such past constructions as “the Audrey Hepburn with anger issues” and “the Nick Cave minus the receding hairline”, and when I ask about the straightened black parting she has today, Clark decides: “I want to call this one… the Lara-Flynn-Boyle-in-the-90s.”

She isn’t quite such a speedy creator of names for her albums. The new LP still doesn’t have a title. I’ve heard about two-thirds of it and it’s superb – the same appealing, enigmatic, genre-spliced collision of ideas and influences that St Vincent fans cherish, only this time with a sleeker, more accessible through-line that ought to further expand her listenership. Some of the tracks, such as the scratchy, stirring Hang On Me, would work as well over the titles of a grand HBO drama as played through fizzing speakers in a dive bar. There are moments of peculiar, wonderful poetry. “Sometimes I feel like an inland ocean,” Clark sings, on a track called Smoking Section. “Too big to be a lake, too small to be an attraction.”

A number of the songs certainly sound as though they pick over the end of a serious relationship, in particular an astonishing meta-epic she has written called LA, which seems to be about a break-up (“How can anybody have you and lose you and not lose their mind, too?”), while at the same time being about a fiercely avant garde musician’s reluctance to do anything as obvious as write about a break-up. “I guess that’s just me, honey, I guess that’s how I’m built,” Clark sings, “I try to write you a love song but it comes out in a melt.”

Delevingne would be the most likely identity of “honey” here. But Clark is far too cool in person – and too determinedly non-specific as a lyricist – to admit to anything like that. “I don’t love it when musicians speak about their records being ‘diaries’ or ‘therapy’,” she says. “It removes that level of deep instinct and imagination that is necessary in order to make something that transcends.” She adds that such ways of talking too often become “erroneously gendered, in the sense that the assumption from the culture at large is that women only know how to write things autobiographically, or diaristically, which is a sexist way of implying that they lack imagination.”

This being said, Clark concedes, “my whole life is in this record. And this is one of the first interviews I’ve done about it. And I guess I haven’t 100% figured out how to talk about it. I mean…” She laughs suddenly, a brilliant, solemnity-shattering hoot. Clark is aware there will be an assumption that a lot of her new songs are about her ex. “I’ve really got to figure this out, right? If I’m going to ever be able to talk about the record?”

As is her custom whenever she’s finalising an album, Clark has currently placed herself in what she calls “deep nun mode”. Single. Work-focused. “Completely monastic. Sober, celibate – full nun.” I’m pretty sure she’s joking when she adds, in her slow, funny, unpredictable way, “I mean there are always sex plans. But none for, like, a month.”

Photograph: Arcin Sagdic for the Guardian

Clark was born in 1982, briefly an Oklahoman before her parents separated and Clark relocated with her mother and two older sisters to a suburb of Dallas, Texas. “My mom was a social worker. She dedicated her life to doing very admirable things. One of my sisters more or less followed on that path, making the world a better place. But I did not.” Though Clark would see her father during school holidays, she describes her teenage years as “matri-focal”. She was surrounded mostly by women. “And Mom’s mantra was: ‘We girls can do anything.’ She didn’t explicitly call it feminism, but it was baked into our DNA.” Her mother had a quirky, creative streak.

Once, after she’d accidentally crashed the family car, she was so intrigued by the aesthetics of the wreck, she climbed out to take photographs of it. “There was probably a picture taken of me and my sisters every day of our childhood. Have I seen any of those pictures? No. Has she gotten them developed? Mostly not. It was just her way of feeling safe, I guess, as if things would last for ever because she had documentation of it.”

Is Clark the same in her songwriting? Documenting and so holding on to vanishing events and feelings? “I’m trying to get rid of things,” Clark laughs. “I’m trying to expel them.”

We walk to Regent’s Park, where the warm weather and an outdoor art show have drawn a milling crowd. A sculpture installed by the park entrance resembles a tall pile of replica footballs. Fitting, as Clark was quite a player when she was young, soccer one of an eclectic assembly of high-school interests. “I was probably insufferable. I was the president of the theatre club, the kid who put Bertrand Russell quotes on their wall.” When I ask who her friends were at the time, she does not hesitate: “Oh, the sluts and the weirdos.”

Clothes from a selection, garethpughstudio.com. Styling: Priscilla Kwateng. Stylist’s assistant: Stanislava Sihelska. Hair: Stephen Beaver at Artists & Company. Makeup: Dele Olo. Photograph: Arcin Sagdic for the Guardian

Music was her main obsession. “I was a 10-year-old fan of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and I would’ve got into a fistfight defending them. Art mattered.” Her maternal uncle, Tuck Andress, was a touring musician, half of a jazz duo called Tuck & Patti, and during the summer Clark graduated from high school he gave her a job assisting his band on tour. Clark enrolled at a music college in Boston after that and lasted a couple of years before dropping out and heading back out on the road, this time as a musician in her own right. She toured successfully as part of the expansive, experimental band the Polyphonic Spree and later as a guitarist for Sufjan Stevens.

She’s always been a political liberal – these days, one in mourning over last November’s election (“I feel like we watched America vote on their daddy issues”) as well as the reign of President Trump, a man she refers to as “a cartoon yeast infection”. As early as her teenage years, Clark had to get accustomed to the fact that a great many political and social norms, predominant in the suburbs where she grew up, were not her norms.

She believes in the essential fluidity of sexuality and of gender. (“Boys!” she sings on a new track called Sugarboy, “I am a lot like you. Girls! I am a lot like you.”) “The mutability of gender and sexuality, as you can probably imagine – that was not a prevalent subject in the suburbs of Dallas when I was growing up. Not even a little bit! And no shade on it now. I love Texas, I’m there all the time seeing family. But I was always gonna get out of there. It felt imperative that I get out of there.”

I can only write about my life, and dating Cara was a big part of my life In her 20s she moved to New York, borrowing the name St Vincent from one of the city’s hospitals, by way of its mention in a Nick Cave song. (St Vincent’s hospital was where “Dylan Thomas died drunk”, as Cave sang in There She Goes, My Beautiful World.) She released a debut record called Marry Me in 2007 and toured it through Europe to dispiritingly inattentive audiences, carrying away from London a special memory of “playing in a pub where you definitely couldn’t hear me over the crowd”. Between her next couple of records, Actor (2009) and Strange Mercy (2011), her career really started to take off. She performed on US chatshows; wrote and wrote; founded an influential creative relationship with Byrne, after he approached her at one of her gigs. “I was kind of stunned,” Byrne later said, of seeing Clark play guitar for the first time. The pair would collaborate on a celebrated 2012 album, Love This Giant.

By the time her 2014 album won the Grammy for best alternative album, Clark was entitled to ask, as she did ask: “Alternative to what?” Prince came to one of her shows, and she was invited to guest-guitar for the surviving members of Nirvana, later for Taylor Swift. As an award nominee at the Brits in spring 2015, Clark came and went on the arm of Delevingne – and pretty much overnight her public persona became a curious, split thing. As St Vincent, she was a fiercely respected musician, patiently fattening a fanbase in the most honourable way, by writing and recording and touring hard. As the “secret girlfriend” (Metro) who was “secretly dating” (Mirror) Delevingne, she was tabloid feed. Clark saw first-hand what it was like for somebody she cared about to be “hounded, hassled, hacked – all of that stuff”.

‘Certain levels of fame are unenviable’: with Talking Heads’ David Byrne

“Having seen certain levels of fame,” Clark tells me, “having been, y’know, fame adjacent… That in and of itself seems very hectic to me. If it’s a natural byproduct of doing what it is you love? Then great. But there are certain levels of fame that I’ve seen, just by proxy, that are unenviable.”

If the upward trend of her music continues, she might find herself in a similar place, whether willed or not. Clark shrugs. “I can’t control any of that stuff. So what am I gonna do? I’m just gonna keep making music. I know this is another Pollyanna answer, but it’s about the music. Did I write better songs than on the last album? Did I sing them better? Did I play better guitar? Did I connect?”

Maybe it was that I heard a low-quality version of the track, but on a new-album song called Pills there was a minor failure to connect. I misheard the song as having a lyric about somebody being “defamed by fame”, something I took to refer to Clark’s 18-month stretch in a celebrity relationship and all the demeaning wrangling with paparazzi and gossip bloggers that must have entailed. Clark looks panicked and says, no, the lyric was about someone being “de-fanged by fame… What I was referring to was that people’s art sometimes suffers when they get into that too-big-to-fail mindset. How things get really boring when people get too risk-averse, or too comfortable, or when they have overheads that are too high.” She can’t seem to get my mishearing of the lyric out of her head, though. “Oh!” she says eventually. “Maybe ‘defamed by fame’ is better?”

For a moment she seems to be wondering how quickly she can sprint to Heathrow from here, and fly back to America to rerecord it. In the end she decides she’ll let listeners hear what they want to hear. “There is no way to control how people perceive a song. And if you try to, my God, are you in for a sisyphean task.”

In the park we walk up a promenade between neatly manicured flowerbeds. When we settle on a bench, Clark seems overawed. “This is so beautiful,” she says. “I love this. Do you know how hard we’d have to work, in the States, to keep something this beautiful this beautiful?”

With former partner Cara Delevingne in September 2015. Photograph: Dave Benett/Getty Images for Burberry

She’s now ready to address the Delevingne quandary. When the new record is out, reference to her ex will be exhaustively scoured for – it’s already started to happen, as when Clark released a single called New York in June, and Vice responded with a think-piece: “Is St Vincent’s new track a love song for Cara Delevingne?” Nobody trawled through her past writing about CCTV surveillance, or masturbation, in quite that way. “Nuh uh,” Clark says.

She takes a breath. “Right! Um. I’ve always kept my writing close to the vest. And by that I mean I’m always gonna write about my life. Sometimes, in the past, I did that way more obliquely than now. But it’s almost like an involuntary reflex. I can’t help but be living and also taking notes on what’s going on, always trying to figure out how to put that into a song. And that does not mean there’s literal truth in every lyric on the way. Of course not. But I can only write about my life, and that – dating Cara – was a big part of my life. I wouldn’t take it off-limits, just because my songs might get extra scrutiny. People would read into them what they would, and you know what? Whatever they thought they found there would be absolutely right. And at the same time it would be absolutely wrong.”

Clark looks out across the park. “A song that means something very specific to me, a song in which I might be obliquely or otherwise exploring some really dark things, is a song that another person might hear and go: ‘Wow, this one really puts a smile on my face.’ I’m thrilled by that. I’m thrilled that people might take my songs into their life and make whatever suits them out of it.”

Clark nods: done. She lets her gaze travel over the park, over the sculptures in the distance, a couple of which look like giant ice-cream cones.

Earlier, she said that she’d got to a point in her career where strangers would send over free starters. If this new album does as well it should, I start to say… “I know, right?” Clark interrupts. “If I play my cards right? With this album? I might – get dessert.” She hoots.

• St Vincent’s new single, New York, is out now through Loma Vista/Caroline International.

• Opening photograph by Arcin Sagdic for The Guardian

[ Source ]

Wonder how all of the people who kept on rambling why Finn doesn’t matter, is the Jar-Jar Binks of the ST, didn’t influence any of the plot, is Rey’s silly sidekick, totally not a lead…. feel now? Because after the last few days I am just leaning back in my chair, pointing at them and going “NOW WHAT, YOU RACIST LOSERS? LOOOL!!”

❛    i’m not sure if this is the SAFEST place to be   —   you would be much better off if you went home   .   that being said   ,   it’s still light enough that a LITTLE exploring shouldn’t really hurt   .   what are you doing here   ,   anyway   ?    ❜

                                                                                     - ̗̀     sc            ➝             @hauntsboy !    ̖́-

Rob Lowe Love Life 

“Threesome! A few years later, back at the mansion with Hef and Mel Brooks. Brooks clearly didn’t understand the dress code.”

#MuslimLuminaries: Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 504/1111)


Al-Ghazālī is a towering figure in Islam; his influence is felt to this very day. He was a teacher, a lecturer, and a scholar of the highest order, as well as a prolific writer. He is commonly referred to as Ḥujjat al-Islām, the Proof of Islam, primarily due to his efforts in intellectually combating ideas and philosophies that plagued the Muslim world during that time. He left no stone unturned in his effort to revive Islamic scholarship in the face of sacrilegious threats – giving him another title affirmed by a saying of the Prophet (ﷺ) of Mujaddid, Renewer

He was born in the city of Ṭūs in present day Iran and from a young age was educated in the basics of Islam and Islamic Law, learning from distinguished teachers like the eminent Shāfi’ī scholar, al-Juwaynī. He had an illustrious career as a teacher at the Nizamīyya School in Baghdad, where his talks would draw huge crowds. It seemed life could not get better; however, al-Ghazālī experienced something of a spiritual crisis. Doubting and questioning his intentions, he renounced his position as a respected teacher and travelled to Damascus, Jerusalem, and the Hejaz (present day Saudi Arabia) – his focus on this journey was to purify his soul. The fruits of this journey in tandem with his scholarship and efforts in the spiritual path form the basis of his most famous work, Iḥyāʾ ʿUlūm al-Dīn, The Revival of the Spiritual Sciences. His impact is not limited to just Islam and the East, influencing the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas, Descartes and others.

Eventually al-Ghazālī returned to Baghdad, where he resumed teaching once again, later returning to his hometown, Ṭūs, where he died. It is said that on the day he died, he work up early, and after offering dawn prayers, he enquired what day it was, his younger brother Aḥmad Ghazālī replied, “Monday.” He then asked him to bring his white shroud, kissed it, stretched himself full length and said, “Lord, I obey willingly,” breathing his last.

_

Said al-Ghazālī, “Filled with the love of this world, a person becomes so attached to it, that he fails to make provision for the hereafter.”

Al-Ghazālī said, “The hypocrite looks for faults; the believer looks for excuses.”

Bulgarian St. Stephen Church, also known as the Bulgarian Iron Church, famous for being made of cast iron. An iron frame was preferred to concrete reinforcement due to the weak ground conditions. Designed in a combination of different styles by Hovsep Aznavur, an Armenian of Constantinople origin and it was manufactured in Vienna and then shipped to Constantinople, where it was inaugurated in 1898. In terms of architecture, the church combines Neo-Gothic and Neo-Baroque influences. Now St Stephen is one of the world’s few surviving prefabricated cast iron churches.

The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.

According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.

Happy St. Patty’s day, loves

How the Other Half Lives - Chapter 2

TITLE: How the Other Half Lives
CHAPTER NUMBER: Chapter 2
AUTHOR:  theothercourse
WHICH TOM/CHARACTER: Jonathan Pine
GENRE: Drama, Mystery, Crime
FIC SUMMARY:  A year after Jonathan Pine helped Angela Burr capture Richard Roper, he is still working with MI6 to bring down some of the world’s most elusive crime lords. Undercover, Jonathan is running surveillance in New York City on Nigel St Clair, an ex-pat known as ‘The Accountant’ for the Wallace Empire.  Ten years ago, while charming NYC clients, Nigel met a young singer/actress, Kristiane Taylor. Enchanted from her first note, he became a mentor for her, enabling her to pursue a career as a Broadway star.

At the age of twenty-nine, Kristiane is about to take the theatre world by storm, stepping into the leading lady role of a highly anticipated new musical, unaware that her world is about to collide with one of NYC’s most prolific crime families and England’s most adept spies.
RATING: Mature (for smut, later)
AUTHORS NOTES: If you’d like to read the background where this story came from and why I’m writing it, you can click this link. Any likes, reblogs, comments, constructive criticism are all helpful. Thank you for reading! This story is dedicated to one person, and she knows who she is. This wouldn’t have been possible without her.

Book Cover | Chapter 1

How the Other Half Lives

By Tuesday morning, when Jonathan gulped down the last of his coffee and threw back the last of his stale bagel, Angela had some new information for him. Nigel St Clair had been spending his Sunday night with an actress, Kristiane Taylor, the current star of an off-Broadway show called Bat Boy and the upcoming star of Pretty Woman the Musical. The new musical was a vehicle for her, produced by Nigel, the very production Jonathan had started to investigate.

Within 36 hours of laying eyes on her, Pine knew more about her than he’d ever need to know, like her schooling (graduate of Tisch), her career (four Broadway shows, one off-Broadway and two national tours) and her accolades (a Tony nomination and two Broadway choice awards, whatever those were). She was well-known within the theatre community, but hadn’t pursued any television or movies to get any recognition beyond Manhattan.

Keep reading

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, was a strong and highly ambitious woman. Not blessed with great beauty, she was nontheless armed with winning charm, impeccable social skills and cunning wit. During the reign of her nephew Tsar Nicholas II, she gained much influence and dominated St. Petersburg society due to her untiring efforts to entertain and gather every important person into her own social circle. Straightforward with her ambitions on behalf of her sons, she ultimately went as far as openly criticizing the Imperial couple and propagating their removal from power, until one of her guests had to say he would pretend, for her sake, he had heard nothing of the sort.

St. Vincent - Overdose - February 2015

If you haven’t already heard about St. Vincent, then let me jog your memory a bit.  St. Vincent (stage name for Annie Clark) was the artist that took the number one spot on everybody’s top albums of 2014 lists.  With her self-titled fourth studio album, St. Vincent took the world by storm with her contorted musical style and her interesting view on everyday life.  "Digital Witness“ was the track that received universal acclaim for it’s "razor-sharp wit” and described our need for a “million digital eyes, validating our experience.”  It’s ideas like this one that really show Annie Clark’s true artistic ability.  

For those of you that are just jumping on the bandwagon with this album, you might not have known the extensive journey that Annie took to get to where she is today.  Before her self-titled album, St. Vincent explored many different areas in life, taking on many different facades.  Annie Clark is an important figure in this generations artistic community and it’s time she gets the praise she deserves.

Marry Me - Review

Release Date: July 10, 2007

For any debut album to be successful it’s got to contain the characteristics of a great up-and-coming artist: creativity, originality, and heart.  Creativity in how they handle their productions throughout the tracks, the way their vocals glide across each hum from their instruments, and how they’ll execute this spectacle within roughly a 45 minutes time period.  Originality would be their distinction between themselves and their peers in the music industry, which could range as far as Kanye West to Adele.  Heart is where you’ll have to do a bit more digging into the record to uncover.  For instance, a lot of people would think Lady Gaga’s music was trash, but it oddly has a lot of substance behind the lyrics that many wouldn’t try to interpret.  One artist that debuted a few years back exuded all of these elements, packed on with a theatrical flare, even though she went fairly under the radar until last year.  St Vincent’s Marry Me brought pop music to the stage and set it on fire, while no one watched.  

I know that I might be exaggerating this notion a tad bit, but ever since I first heard St. Vincent’s debut album, I’ve always wondered why I’ve never heard anything about it.  Sure her latest releases (Actor, Strange Mercy, & St. Vincent) we’re, in my opinion, better than Marry Me, but that doesn’t exclude the fact this was her debut album, where she found her roots, and I don’t think that’s something to be overlooked in anyone’s discography.  

If I haven’t already unearthed this common theme throughout this record, I’ll state again that St. Vincent (real name, Annie Clark) took a very theatrical approach to her version of pop music, setting a scene for each each song and captivating the listeners with a new story each time.  In “Paris Is Burning” Annie takes the form of an American soldier a midst the ruins of Paris, France after WWII, where her words are precise and her vocals even better.  “Sticks and stones have made me smarter, it’s words that cut me under my armor” is an example from the aforementioned song where St. Vincent plays on the idiom “sticks and stones may break my bones,” inverting the message, showing that words can in fact hurt.  It’s no hidden agenda that these small tidbits are really what makes the album glorious; her word play, her extensive vocal range, her strange rock-tinged sound.  Following along the themes of war, St. Vincent dives headfirst into “Landmines” to assimilate their relationship to that of warfare, using the smoke as metaphors for times that they’re relationship is unclear.  One part of the record that is unclear though is that at some points in this record, you’ll probably be asking yourself if this is a break-up album, or one about history.  While the distinction is blurry sometimes, it still makes for a really decent record and St. Vincent does her best to at least make the ambiguous moments blissful and exuberant.  On “Jesus Saves, I Spend,” St. Vincent kind of trails on the borderline of her talent; the song isn’t exceptionally good, but for me it’s the most skipped song on Marry Me, possibly for the line “While Jesus is saving, I’m spending all my days,” which I thought was clever at first, but cringe-worthy after a few listens.  

Look, I love St. Vincent and this record just as they are, but even the things you love have flaws and that’s just the case with this record.  So if you’re looking for the beginning of St. Vincent’s road to success, they’ll all say it started here, between “Now, Now” and “What Me Worry” on her debut record, Marry Me.

Actor - Review

Release Date: May 4, 2009 

If St. Vincent’s first album was her broadway show, then her sophomore record, Actor, is the movie adaptation.  Stepping into her own with this record, Actor showed a slight change in style from Marry Me where Annie Clark really develops her core sound that’s still present in her music six years later.  With film being a huge influence throughout the record, St. Vincent uses references to actors and their line of work to tell her stories of anti-love and hardships from everyday life.  Actor represented a lot of different things: the life of a performer, the deception of time and having it slip between your fingers, and the absurd way that history repeats itself.  

Before the music even begins, it’d be hard to miss some of the extravagant track names that are on this record: “Actor Out Of Work,” “Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood,” and “Marrow” are just a few.  With names like these, I felt a little anxious when walking into this record, because typically songs with very over-the-top names are “extreme” songs; they’re either extremely good, or extremely bad, no in between.  Luckily for Annie, her talent extends beyond the normalities of commercial pop music, making Actor an emotional joyride.  On “Save Me From What I Want” Annie explores the downside to love and her cry for help from a toxic relationship.  “The Party” works as a reflection for Ms. Clark as she begins to feel like her youth is behind and she’s grown up faster than expected, using lines like “how did we get here with creaks in these chairs” as metaphors for rocking chairs and old age.  Before that though, we have the track “The Bed” that brings her back to her childhood years where they’d be worried about monsters under their beds and where she flips old nighttime stories to connect with the listeners.  Throughout the record it’s themes like this that really sparked my interest because her attention to detail is so fine and clever.  

While I’m trying to keep this review short, I’d just like to end it by saying that there was very few things I disliked about this era for St. Vincent.  To her advantage, she stuck with similar lyrical content as before while her sound and themes felt like progressions from her previous work.  It was an overall improvement from her previous work and if Marry Me started the road to her success, than Actor was her taste of fame that she deserved.

Strange Mercy - Review

Release Date: September 12, 2011

For her third time around, Annie Clark (better known by her stage name St. Vincent) follows her road to success through a winding road of societal ignorance.  Strange Mercy serves as Annie’s view on the world around her and the injustices she sees throughout her travels.  It’s interesting how she explores these different personas in order to get her message across about different parts of society.  

Strange Mercy starts off with “Chloe In The Afternoon,” a track about a dominatrix of sorts that heals her pain by selling herself.  Within the context of the track, we find the prostitute in a situation where they both retreat back to emotional distress after an act that should have made them feel better.  This unwavering sadness is explored again in her track “Surgeon” where Annie tells the “best finest surgeon” to “come cut [her] open” to solve her depression and find solace in a better skin.  On “Champagne Year” St. Vincent takes a more autobiographical account of her success and what she’s really doing here with her music: “I make a living telling people what they want to hear.”  Throughout this record there’s an obvious pessimistic feel that St Vincent exudes; something that just feels so upset with her inner feelings, that she lets out her very cynical view on others around her.  While this feeling remains throughout the majority of the record, there is a sort of acceptance that’s passionately placed behind her vocals.  It’s a tone in her voice, a sadness in her words that really shows how St. Vincent feels about these different personas, that she understands their individuality.  

With this record furthering St. Vincent’s progression into stardom, Actor showed her moving closer to her current musical stylings, but Strange Mercy showed Annie Clark really talking about the subjects she was born to discuss.  Strange Mercy was beautiful, yet sporadic; enlightening, yet dark.  If you’ve followed St. Vincent this far, keep going because her story isn’t fully told just yet.  

St. Vincent (Deluxe Edition) - Review

Release Date: February 9, 2015

I can’t believe its been a little over a year since St. Vincent graced the world with her self-titled fourth studio album…where did the time go? Annie Clark’s depiction of the world around her had once again set fire to the hearts of many and had them craving for more music. If you weren’t part of the masses that flocked to Annie’s side as she received a Grammy for this record than you’re in luck. With St. Vincent re-releasing her highly acclaimed record, you once again have the opportunity to take the album for a spin and fall in love as we all did.

Right off the bat you’ll notice that St. Vincent isn’t like other artists, she’s unique in every way possible.  Let’s take the first track for example: “Rattlesnake” is this track thats apocalyptic at heart, but introspective as a whole. On the track, Annie’s vocals are distorted, making her sound as if she’s part of a radio broadcast or that her voice is being transmitted from somewhere else.  This feeling might have originally generated from her album artwork where she looks like she could be the alien queen from another universe.  This apocalyptic feel is reflected again in the later song, “Severed Crossed Fingers” where she finds herself “in the rubble there” as she reflects on how she got there. Now I wouldn’t know exactly what category to put her music in, mainly because her distinct sound is best described as “indie pop” and even that doesn’t do it justice.  Tinged with rock influences mixed with some modern pop music, this record does have a somewhat futuristic sound about it.  Being one of the most praised parts of the album, St. Vincent’s distinct sound is what really got her recognized as an avant garde type of artist.  Her lyrics also played a huge factor in her acclaim; her single, “Digital Witness,” made statements about modern life and the social media culture, while using a soul inspired production to connect it to the music of popular culture.  

Birth In Reverse” and “Psychopath” were two of my favorite tracks on the record, the later being one of the few about a relationship.  "Birth In Reverse“ on the other hand was a revolutionary way of thinking about life in general.  Birth is the process of giving new life, the reverse of that would be St. Vincent’s way of looking at death.  ”Huey Newton“ was a track that I felt fell short compared to the rest of the album and while it wasn’t necessarily a bad song, the way Annie sung the lyrics made the it feel awkward and dreary.  Shockingly enough, the only other track that I found to be fairly dull was ”Regret“ for the soul fact that the chorus always felt very drawn out. Other than those two songs, I didn’t find any other tracks on the record that I didn’t like.

With the expansion to the album (simply titled St. Vincent Deluxe Edition) St. Vincent really just flawlessly expanded on what was already a fantastic album.  Whenever an artist does a re-release like this, I’m always worried that things will go wrong.  On one hand they could add four good songs, but it could mess up the flow of the album. On another hand they could add four bad songs and ruin a perfect album.  Luckily its not the case for St. Vincent’s repackaging, where we ended up getting four really great songs that perfectly fit into the jigsaw puzzle that we already had.  ”Bad Believer“ is the obvious standout amongst the five new songs; its catchy, upbeat, and again her lyrics are captivating, yet complex.  ”Del Rio“ felt a little different when compared to the rest of the album as a whole, but with the variety on this album it doesn’t feel out of place.  While I loved all of the new bonus tracks, I have to say that I really thought the ”DARKSIDE remix“ of ”Digital Witness“ was unneeded and fairly dull.  It takes a lot for me to like a remix and this one is nothing different.  

Aside from that one remix track, I found St. Vincent’s deluxe edition to be one of the better repackagings I’ve seen in a while.  It kept the essence and flow of the original eleven tracks but served as the perfect addition to an already amazing album.