Wednesday, December 17, 2014

St Vincent isn't my album of the year, but...

St Vincent’s fifth album recently topped both the Guardian and the NME's "record of the year" lists. You can see why – the self-titled album is further out there than the Mars Voyager, fuelled by warped guitar lines and discordant harmonies, without abandoning a core catchiness (there are proper choruses and everything!)

But it's an album I admire - not one I love.

Why? Because all the effort is on show. "Look at this clever thing I did here," it screams, "isn't it clever?" (I feel the same way about parts of Taylor Swift's 1989, truth be told). Great pop should sound spontaneous, no matter how much sweat is shed in the studio.

At the same time, St Vincent fulfils Lady Gaga's consistently broken Artpop promise. These songs have the potential to exercise the brain and the feet. And in its freer moments, the album is superb. One such moment is Birth In Reverse which, coincidentally, is the next single.

The video suffers from the same self-conscious stylings I mentioned above – but the "guitar hero in space" section is brilliant.

St Vincent - Birth In Reverse

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