May 18, 2024

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St. Vincent's “All Born Screaming” album review

St. Vincent's “All Born Screaming” album review

The seventh album released by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark at the time, St. Vincent is filled with the kind of visceral imagery that sticks with you long after her songs have faded. There's a “hungry little flea” ready to infect your “warm body,” a street predator that turns aggression into a sinister promise, a sink that turns red, a head that won't stop beating, and a dream that ends in hell. . “I feel like I'm typing on a urinal,” she sings. Hey, we've all been there.

Clark's music has always been fearlessly intimate. (One of her best-known songs, 2017's “New York,” centered on the scorched-earth kiss of “You're the only motherfucker in town who can handle me.”) Yet, more often than not, harsh truths assail her by blurring the line between autobiography and deception. , and hide her image in carefully designed aesthetic masks. In her latest album 2021 Daddy's house, used 1970s glam rock as a mirror stage to explore feelings about her father's imprisonment for securities fraud and other finance-related crimes. She appears on the LP cover in a blonde wig, as if using a Warhol-like deflection to confront an uncomfortable personal reality.

Every boy screams It's more primitive than conceptual, and that makes it a refreshing change among St. Vincent albums. Many of the songs bring to mind the industrial bloodletting of Nine Inch Nails, the gothic operatic masterpiece that empties itself from Tori Amos' 1998 album. From the choir girl hotel, the disturbing disturbance of nirvana. Dave Grohl performed two songs, and some of the album was recorded at Electrical Audio, a Chicago studio run by Steve Albini, whose credits include Nirvana. In the womb. The results can be harrowing: in Broken Man she plays an “oversized killer”, pitiful and downright dangerous, where sly distortion and metallic drums heighten the sense of menace. “Reckless” begins as a sad, tense piano ballad, with Clark promising to “rip you apart or I'll fall in love,” then explodes into raging Reznorian slide. “Flea” moves from winking verse to an alternative rock chorus, with Clarke’s metaphorical bug promising to suck you dry when you least expect it.

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Common

But if Every boy screams It's a dark album, it's not depressing. Although Clark's lyrics tend to delve into the space between connection and contempt, desire and disgust (she calls this album “post-plague pop”), the music never sounds bleak or defeated. Clarke produced herself for the first time in her career (working with drumming friends like Grohl, Stella Mujzawa, Josh Freese, and art-pop artist Cate Le Bon), and you can feel a real sense of discovery as she turns the sonic lens, even on the hardest, heaviest moments. In this record. “Hell Is Here” splits the difference between ominous and transportive, much like David Bowie’s “Five Years,” drifting broadly over a soaring bass line and a complex guitar figure. “Sweetest Fruit” uses choppy electro pulses as a backdrop to Clark’s signature disjointed guitar flash, while offering lyrics that yearn for pleasure as an antidote to distress. On “The Power's Out,” societal collapse turns to chaotic freedom in Year Zero (“No one can blame us now that the power's out”), while Clarke's voice splendidly stretches out over a bare percussion and a Brian Eno-esque elegiac drone. esque. . With its reggae beats and soothing, soothing melody, “So Many Planets” is the kind of smart, world-leading pop that her friend and collaborator David Byrne often specialized in, with a sultry, reassuring solo by Clarke. “no no no” Abstain.

She ends it on the big seven-minute title track, another tune that feels both liberating and terrifying at the same time. The song starts out bright and bouncy, then fades into the ambient ether as the Voice of God chorus swoops in to remind us that “we were all born to scream,” turning this resigned warning into a soulful mantra. Then the track heats up again into ferocious, frenzied electronic chatter. It is the music that evokes the terror we all share in simply being alive, and the way we fight is a form of constant birth that we all share as well. It is this truth that this album explores and celebrates many times over, and why it is some of Annie Clark's most compelling music to date.

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