St. Vincent launches “Masseduction”, a superb fifth album

Photo: Bryan Bedder Agence France-Presse
On “Masseduction”, St. Vincent is a fan of sincerity.

It is a disc crossed by several themes, “power, sex, relationships, peril and death,” warned Annie Clark in a press release announcing the release, this Friday, Masseduction, her fifth album. It could also add drugs, suicidal thoughts, loneliness, and other cockroaches of the existence. Masseduction is a disk torn between his musical references of the explosive and its refrains of light behind which one reads texts are suffused with sadness, even in its moments of crazy. It is also a pinnacle in his career, and this year’s musical.


By launching her third album in 2014, the singer-songwriter Annie Clark, already held in high esteem on the independent music scene, crossed in the daring a new phase of his rich career. After three scientists of the albums of pop art refined and intelligent, St. Vincent, the album, pushing them even further his desire to explore, would allow him to win the Grammy award for best alternative album of the year. An artistic proposal paradoxical, with which she proves to be more intimately while camping a character cold, robotic even, and authoritarian. The songs of this album, on the contrary, seemed to us to discover as she had never quite dared to do it on Marry Me (2007), Actor (2009) and Strange Mercy (2011).


Vulnerability is palpable


Masseduction, adds St. Vincent in the news release, ” is different, [interpreted] in the first person. You will not be able to verify it, but if you want to learn about my life, listen to this disk “. Difficult to verify, in effect, if not for one detail that does not lie : there is, from the first to the last song, a vulnerability that is palpable. The voice cracks on the phrase that hurts. Annie Clark is a fan of sincerity.

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It is already heard in the voice drowned out by the rhythm mechanical and languorous to Hang On Me. Then in the anguish that pierces the chorus badin of the following Pills, almost a jingle, advertising and is flanked by a rhythm techno : “Pills to wake, pills to sleep / Pills, pills, pills every day of the week / Pills to walk, pills to think / Pills, pills, pills for the family “. Its final diminuendo, adorned with the saxophone Kamasi Washington (it appears elsewhere on the album, always in a discreet fashion), refers to the last few bars of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen : St. Vincent made his life complicated a musical theater.


Cards on the table


On the title song, she puts the cards on the table, ” I can’t turn off what turns me on “, by re-evoking his sexuality, recalling here, by its theme of sadomasochism (and, oh, by his playing of the guitar that grafigne !), the sulphur Justify My Love of Madonna. On Sugarboy, St. Vincent increased the pace : noisy techno-trance, chorus supported by a heart, counterpoint, chord synth retro, it is a version of hysteria of the Bat Dance Prince, St. Vincent as we had never heard before.


The other time erotic of the album follows soon after, on Savior. As for the beautiful Los Ageless, St. Vincent borrows the rhythmic piston Closer by Nine Inch Nails (or even the theme, with stanzas such as ” You dress me in a nun”s black outfit / Hail Mary past, ’cause you know I grab it “) to articulate its melody, ornamented with a simple pattern of guitar funk — as gloomy as sexy, until falls for the prettiest of the choruses.

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If two-thirds of the album are crossed by experiments in art rock/funk chrome by drum machines and synthesizers — she has collaborated in the studio with Sounwave, producer of Kendrick Lamar, and producer Jack Antonoff, a last third of songs takes us back St. Vincent in the tangible and pure emotion.


The cry of the heart for the lost friend Happy Birthday Johnny refers to the same Prince Johnny that she sang on her last album. The epic pop song New York is almost a number of Broadway, with its violins and its choir, and its chorus, where she alluded to his “hero” disappeared, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie. The rock energy of the latter flat on the powerful Fear the Future, and then on Young Lover, the story inspired by the relationship between the musician with the british model Cara Delevingne.


Coherent work


Introduced by the interlude instrumental Dancing With a Ghost, the adagio Slow Disco is masterful, its melody carrier, his orchestrations of single strings, but fine, its coda sung by Joy Williams (ex-Civil Wars), the text oozes solitude. Masseduction ends with one last ballad, Smoking Section, she also built as a number of music.


A remarkable fifth album of St. Vincent, totally exploded on the musical level, all the small pieces of the broken mirror of his tumultuous life managing to form a coherent work by the voice, the emotion and the great musical vision of its author.

★★★★ 1/2

St. Vincent, Loma Vista Records