St. Vincent reinvents her sound in latest pop album, “MASSEDUCTION”

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Genesis Rodriguez/Contributing Writer

The long-awaited St. Vincent album, “MASSEDUCTION,” dropped with a bang on Oct. 13, 2017. It has been two years since Annie Clark released an LP as extraordinary as her fifth studio album. Annie Clark, better known as her stage name St. Vincent, is a Grammy award-winning artist. Over the years, Annie has experimented with her sound and as an artist has grown exponentially. With “MASSEDUCTION,” we see Annie exploring new beginnings by crossing the mainstream pop horizon.


The complexity of the album will take you on a ride of personal testimony in a pop influenced direction. The lyricism speaks on liberation, nostalgia, and letting go. You will shed a few tears to the slow piano ballads accompanied by the warmth and comfort of Annie’s vocals, just as much as you will want to get up and dance to the electric guitar and lingered noisy electro sounds.

Prior to the album launch, Annie released “New York,” “Los Ageless” and “Pills” as singles. These songs do not entirely give justice as a reflection of the LP, but for the most part they aid in representing the new direction Annie has taken as an artist. Change is good; Annie’s risk was worth taking.

“MASSEDUCTION” starts the pop approach with the songs “Hang On Me,”  “Pills” and “Los Ageless.” Out of the three, “Pills” is a wonderful mix of a childhood melody, heavy drums and quick guitar strums, making it a hit. Currently on Spotify, it is the number one St. Vincent track with over one million plays.

Courtesy of Flickr.

It is a fast-paced, weird and catchy song that just makes you want hit replay a few times over. Although it could have opened with a better song – the album opens with “Hang On Me” – it’s not the worst choice. The song seems to lose focus on a single theme, jumping from a disembodied vocal to a deep bass guitar.  But, the track is dull and did not appeal to me as much as I hoped it would. Another song that fell short in the album is “Los Ageless.”

Despite not exactly to my liking, the production is sharp and clear with the roaring guitar in the background.

“New York,” the eighth track out of thirteen, gives us an upbeat piano over faint drums, giving the sense of a happy track, but alas, that is not the case.

The chorus repeats, “I have lost a hero, I have lost a friend.” Clearly Annie is mourning the loss of someone’s presence in New York.

The track is one that you will find yourself replaying because of how painfully graceful it sounds. In this field of the album, you have track six, “Happy Birthday, Johnny.” Annie’s soft and passionate vocals followed by the immensely crushing lyrics pull at one’s pathos.

In this song, Annie speaks on feeling guilty for Johnny’s circumstances and not knowing where he may be now that he is homeless. She is referring to “Prince Johnny” in her last album, “St. Vincent”. Lastly, “Slow Disco” is followed by the ambient symphony instrumental, “Dancing With A Ghost.”

“Slip my hand from your hand, leave you dancing with a ghost” is the repeated chorus, which sets the tone of letting go.

Under the surface of this pop rock LP, these three songs reflect Annie’s internal demons. This gives the album a personal depth; she gives her listeners the opportunity to relate to intimate feelings, something I appreciate Annie for as a fan.

Another banger is “Masseduction.” It blew me away. The production in this song is perfectly mastered. Annie’s vocals are clear, rhythmed and sensually unapologetic.

In a funky tune, she speaks on not being able to turn off what turns her on. Although many will compare this song to the entirety of the album, this is the only track that by far gives this fresh dynamic sound the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her new approach.

Mimicking “Masseduction,” “Fear The Future” is another raunchy track with extra instrumentation. The song is brave, loud and in your face. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the album also has its misses, with “Sugarboy” being one of them.

From the moment I pressed play I was turned off with the obnoxious choir and 80s inspired dance beat. It really does not come close to the beauty of each individual track, in comparison to the other wonderfully produced songs.

In the category of blues type funk, there is “Savior,”  “Young Lover” and “Smoking Section.” Both “Savior” and “Young Lover” include lyrical pieces that contrary to sound seem to be personal interludes. The beat in these two starts simple, sultry drums elevating it into a bold hitting bass guitar and heavy electric-influenced repetitive beat.

In each song, vocals start at a talking pace and peak with Annie’s pleasant high-pitched yelling. “Smoking Section” lingers behind these two. There is a lot of loud and quiet instrumental play that does not appeal to me, however, lyrically it is fantastic.

“Sometimes I go to the edge of my roof, I think I’ll jump just to punish you.” This is my favorite line, sun with both pain and passion.  

“MASSEDUCTION” is an ingenious album that St. Vincent approached with intelligence. It was a risk worth taking. She delivers a pop punch to old fans, surely makin some new ones along the way.

There is something for everyone in this album, from different guitar techniques, personal messages to upbeat sensual funk.

Annie and producer, Jack Antonoff, worked exceedingly well with one another and created a diverse LP that will have countless of replays. Underneath the surface, almost every track in this album creates a wonderful experience for the listener whether it be lyrically or with production elements. This is the beauty of “MASSEDUCTION”.

Well done, Annie.

Music Matters is a weekly music column that reviews pop, rock and alternative music albums and singles.  It does not reflect the opinions and views of FIU’s Student Media.

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