St Vincent: MASSEDUCTION Review
Less guitars, more synths. Annie Clark’s sixth album MASSEDUCTION is exciting and daunting all at once.
Eclectic and stubbornly refusing to be defined by a genre, Pills seems to imitate the cyclical structure of the album - first upbeat and nearly frantic, then halting into a guitar-fuelled stop, only to turn gloomy and dark. One thing is consistent - the lyrics, always tinted by anxiety and existentialism (‘the void is back and I'm blinking’, Clark sings on the album opener), yet managing to maintain a sexual feel throughout the album; ‘I don’t turn off what turns me on’, she sings before playing with the words ‘mass seduction’ and ‘mass destruction’ until they begin to sound the same, ‘oh, I hold you like a weapon’.
Clark’s first single New York, from where the now popular phrase ‘you’re the only motherf***er in this city who can handle me’ originated, does not prepare you for what comes next, the apocalypse-themed Fear The Future. Running becomes a theme throughout the album ( ‘I run for you’ in Fear the Future, ‘I can keep on running,’ chanted on Los Ageless) which, together with the many mentions of alcohol and ‘drinking manic panic’, gives these tracks an antsy, restless mood.
Described as her most personal album to date, MASSEDUCTION includes songs like Happy Birthday, Johnny, where she appears to address her experience in the public eye (‘you saw me on magazines and TV / if only they only knew the real version of me / only you know the secrets, the swamp, and the fear’), belts out dramatic lyrics like ‘how can anybody have you and lose you / and not lose their minds too?’ in the cleverly written Los Ageless, and potentially references some mental health struggles in Smoking Section: ‘sometimes I go to the edge of my roof / and I think I'll jump just to punish you / and if I should float on the taxis below / no one will notice, no one will know.’
Clark finishes off the album with a ghostly chant of ‘it’s not the end, it’s not the end’. Her fans would certainly hope so - every album is arguably better than the previous one, and I can’t wait to see what else she has up her sleeve.