RECORD REVIEW: St. Vincent’s Actor


Texas native Annie Clark, AKA St. Vincent, has come a long way since her departure from The Polyphonic Spree, having won over critics’ hearts and minds at this year’s SXSW festival, and releasing Actor, her highly anticipated and justifiably hyped sophomore effort. Critics have described Actor as the captivating soundtrack to some long lost Disney film that never existed, and after a few listens I am inclined to agree. More accurately, I would argue that Actor‘s seamless wedding of tormented lyrics to sweeping symphonic arrangements is closer to the enchanted melancholia vibe of a Tim Burton movie, with Clark playing the tortured soul lost in a gilded Neverland. The album opens with “The Strangers,” with Clark’s prismatic vocals mixed just loud enough for Bambi’s mother to hear, while a tapestry of chimes and harmonies billows in the background. It’s the perfect prescription for a good day’s sleep after you’ve tired yourself out from a long night of psychedelic drug abuse. “Save Me from What I Want,” the album’s second track, proves to be much the same, as Clark drowsily pipes through another tale of woozy hopelessness. She sounds exhausted, and rightfully so — Clark not only did all the singing, she played all the instruments as well. This chick has been worn down to the bone, but don’t fret, she peps up a bit on “Actor Out Of Work,” the first single off the album. Though Clark remains loyal to a steady formula of silky, otherworldly vocals, the friction in her voice finally begins to show with lyrics like “You’re a liar, and that’s the truth/you’re an extra, lost in the scene.” As Actor climaxes, Clark begins to alter her tone to something more upbeat. I finally felt myself sitting upward, slowly tapping my toe to the synthesized beats of “Marrow.” Careful not to deprive listeners of that Disney-through-the-glass-darkly vibe, St. Vincent returns to that harmonious, dreamlike banter on her last track, “The Sequel,” ending her sorrows in roughly two minutes, as if to bid her listeners goodnight. Cue Jiminy Cricket and the fireworks over Snow White’s castle. And we all lived happily ever after. — KYLEE MESSNER


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