by Annie Fell (@zitremedies)
In the nearly four years since St. Vincent’s last release, Annie Clark was thrust into the spotlight, then retreated from it of her own volition. On her fifth album, MASSEDUCTION, Clark has returned, again, on her own terms. In its press release, Clark described the album as “pretty first person. You can’t fact-check it, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record.” The album is the most traditional pop record she’s released thus far, both in its catchy hooks and slightly less abstract lyrics, but retains the fusion of classical composition and avant-garde futurism for which she’s become known.
The album was introduced by the surreal, neon-hued music videos for the first two singles, “New York” and “Los Ageless.” Unlike the actual cities, “Los Ageless” is better than “New York.” Each is a classic display of Clark’s witty lyrics and knack for unshakeable earworms; however, the album’s highlights are not its singles. The titular “Masseduction” is a clean-cut version of a Prince song--not necessarily in the sense that it’s significantly less interesting or, god forbid, sexy (though no one can touch Prince on that front, obviously), but rather that it wholly subscribes to Clark’s signature pop perfectionism. Another standout, “Savior,” is slow burning and funky, with Clark scolding the listener, “Honey, I can’t be your savior.”
MASSEDUCTION toys with themes of sexuality more explicitly than on St. Vincent’s previous releases; the album is most significantly characterized by an ironic appropriation of female objectification. The album cover, which simply features a faceless woman’s ass adorned in hot pink tights against a blazing blood orange background, has the potential to be equally as iconic as any classic album cover from a male rock star that earnestly objectifies a woman.
In general, it’s cliche at best to bring up a female musician’s looks and, at worst, it’s straight up offensive, but I would be remiss to not acknowledge the carefully curated transformation Clark initiates with each new album. Since the start of the MASSEDUCTION press cycle, Clark has ironed her trademark curls pin-straight, making her razor sharp features even more intimidatingly and extraterrestrially beautiful, as if she herself were one of her pop songs. If, on her past couple releases, St. Vincent was a both housewife worn thin and a futuristic cult leader, MASSEDUCTION is the version of Clark that hyper-realizes her inherent perfectionism.
Like any established rock star, it’s wild to think that Annie Clark grew up where she grew up (in Oklahoma and Texas, to be particular). Like any good rock star, it’s wild to think that Annie Clark grew up on planet earth. At this point, we expect that she will reinvent herself every album cycle, and, no matter her adopted persona, will deliver phenomenal music. Because of how saturated the market is for rock and roll at this point, I don’t think it is possible to have another singular pop cultural figure like David Bowie; however, Clark is probably the closest we could hope to have.