It’s been over three years since St. Vincent last released an album. Leading up to the album “Masseduction,” which hit streaming sites and stores on October 13th, Annie Clark, better known by her stage name of St. Vincent, dropped three tracks and two music videos in a heavy promotional campaign that coincided with the start of her tour, “Fear the Future,” that received mixed reviews.
The first single release, “New York,” indicated a departure from St. Vincent’s known style and use of guitar. Instead, “New York” is a ballad laced with expletives, on a track mostly featuring piano. The stylistic change left fans wondering and waiting for the new album.
The follow up single, “Los Ageless” took a much different turn than its predecessor. A grittier rock track with a few moments of creative guitar riffs, this song had elements of old St. Vincent while still seeming to move in a new direction.
Just days before the release of the full album, St. Vincent released one more track, “Pills,” a more pop tune with a heavy subject matter. With multiple movements in the nearly five-minute-long song that features vocals from Jenny Lewis and Cara Delevingne, “Pills” is one of the most musically and stylistically complex songs on the album.
The first track of the album, “Hang on Me,” echoes past works of St. Vincent more in the vein of her first album, “Marry Me.” Clark combines her own hesitant vocals over subtle horns and varied guitar effects in a bright song that references being, “Not for this world,” and uses the phrase, “Hang on me,” ambiguously.
St. Vincent’s frequent subject, a generic Johnny, makes another appearance. “Happy Birthday, Johnny” follows in a similar vein as “New York,” featuring mostly Annie Clark’s voice over piano, although in a much sadder way as perhaps the most subdued track of the record.
Other notable tracks from the album include the title track “Masseduction,” an odd pop tune that blends the lyrics of “Masseduction/mass destruction” in a cheeky manner that is characteristic of St. Vincent’s previous works.
“Fear the Future,” the ninth songs of the record, bears the same title as her upcoming tour. The track features heavy guitar tracks with a lot of distortion but the short song doesn’t seem to go anywhere musically, just serving as two-and-a-half-minute long rock influenced tune.
However, the album as a whole is one of St. Vincent’s best lyrically, with literary juxtaposition and sinister subject matter laced over pop tracks, piano, and distorted guitars. This record is also Clark’s best vocally. Known more for her guitar playing and innovations than her vocals, Clark’s voice shines through on this album in tracks like “Young Lover” and “Savior,” and is far more exposed in songs like “New York” and “Happy Birthday, Johnny.”
Combining the style she is known for while working in a new sound, St. Vincent’s “Masseduction” seems to fall just a little short. Although a good record with several strong songs and an intense marketing campaign, the album doesn’t quite line up with her past works that she is known for and successful in. Some songs on the album are strong, but others seem as only an afterthought, such as “Slow Disco” and “Sugarboy.”
Also absent from the album are the intense guitar tracks and effects that helped to make St. Vincent famous. Although her live shows tend to display more of her skill with guitar than her albums do, and with Clark currently on her “Fear the Future” tour, fans can expect to hear more of that added to these songs.