St. Vincent – Actor
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2009
This was one of those “I absolutely must buy this record” records. While I'd initially pegged Annie Clark's first St. Vincent record as “light,” this is a goddamned work of art, and I've retroactively realized that Marry Me is pretty excellent. But this is just masterful. It's just so...adventurous! She really goes out on a limb and creates some of the most intriguing pop compositions of the year. It also has incredible flow, despite the songs all sounding rather different. The gorgeous, orchestral, film-music-esque “The Neighbors” transitions into the brash “Actor Out of Work,” which achieves top 5 song of the year status with it's ingenious structure (it's over before I know it and pretty much demands repeat listening), the crunchy guitars, and the skuzzy synths. While Marry Me felt like a bag of tricks (a really good one, mind you), Actor feels like a bag of tricks but one with a goal. The goal seems to be to make a record that is a record. One that demands to be listened to all the way through without cherry picking, and one that remains constantly engaging and relistenable. Check out the build on “Black Rainbow” that never seems like it's going to end. It keeps rising and rising and I always get really tense because I don't think the tension being built will ever be released. Things switch between serene and groovy on a dime. The album's second single, “Marrow,” is driven by either a heavily distorted guitar riff or a really dirty sounding synth, and it culminates in a cacophonous mess of noises that sounds like an awesomely indulgent Yo La Tengo guitar solo breakdown. It's an album I can see becoming a classic, even if it's a lost classic, it's something that will outlive the rash of buzzbands that have ended up in shallow graves over the years.
And the excellent video for "Actor Out of Work"