There is no other artist in the digital age that can make binary sound downright sinister, and if that’s not a ringing endorsement of St. Vincent’s eponymous fourth album, read on for further praise because there’s not a single track that falters. Each warble of Annie Clark’s vocals, bent synth pitch and crackling thump of percussion takes the artist to new heights. The LP’s two singles, “Birth in Reverse” and “Digital Witness” meld into the album effortlessly. No song stands out as an immediate single. They’re all simply impressive in their own right.
St. Vincent’s bag of tricks extends to what truly is the wildcard track of the album. Nestled in the middle of the defiant jams and fast-paced mania sits “I Prefer Your Love,” a “Like a Prayer” for a new generation. There’s a bit of Madonna to the intro, with bursts of post-rock reminiscent of Danger Mouse. Prolific producer and familiar face John Congleton helped wrangle the many ideas that Clark put forth in St. Vincent and simply not enough can be said of his nuance. The following track, “Regret” is a fitting morning after to Clark’s croons of, well, loving someone like Jesus. Even the deities in the St. Vincent universe are just a fleeting means of expression.
Semi-downtempo closer “Severed Crossed Fingers” feels as much like a curtain call — really, the last of a good, hard encore — as it does a meditation on inebriation. There’s surely something deeper to the track, as though this is all being heard through the echo chambers of Mardi Gras in New Orleans– “there are purple, gold, and green feathers on my head and I look gaudy.” It’s just as fitting to be listening to St. Vincent in garish accoutrements as it would be riding the subway or cleaning your house. What St. Vincent seeks to achieve in truly tapping into her ethos amounts to a strong missive; an album for all occasions.