Review: Marry Me – St. Vincent

St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) has been there the whole time, you probably just haven’t noticed her. Marry Me coverMost of her work until now has been as member of the back up crews for Sufjan Stevens and The Polyphonic Spree. Her debut album, Marry Me, raises the question “Why hadn’t this lady put out an album out years ago?” While St. Vincent brings a lot of the aural elements of her previous work into the album, she also goes in some unexpected and delightful directions. Her voice and the quirky art-rock feel of the album will definitely draw well-deserved comparisons to fellow chanteuse Kate Bush.

The album kicks off with “Now, Now”, a track very reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens with a choir of lilting voices backing St. Vincent up, a keyboard and guitar providing a nice bouncy rhythm. Her voice immediately sets her apart from the standard droning indie rock voice out there. As the song progresses, the guitar spirals into a dissonant song that actually compliments the lightness of the song. Next up is the wittily-titled “Jesus Saves, I Spend” which has a playfully sped up choir in the background and bridges into some etheral drums and tambourine at the halfway mark before going back to the steady 6/8 time of the first half of the song. “Your Lips Are Red” is the first track on the album to mark some true distinction from St. Vincent’s previous gigs. Its a much darker, almost Bowie-esque track. starting with a throbbing drum and rough-hewn guitar that builds to a chaotic climax that never comes.

Next is the title track “Marry Me” which changes things up again and bears traces of a Carole King like love song. “Paris is Burning” is one of the most lyrically- strong songs on the album such as “Sticks and stones have made me smarter/it’s words that cut me under my armor they say”. It also bears strains of a intricately orchestrated Rufus Wainwright song (circa Poses). “All My Stars Aligned” is the most classically-pop sounding track with the plinking of piano keys leading through the majority of it. Things switch up as the orchestra builds and samples…The James Bond theme? My personal favorite track on the album is next, “The Apocalypse Song”. Another song that builds with a steady drum beat and guitar but this time comes to a climax with a choir and scratchy guitar breakdown.

“We Put A Pearl In The Ground”, an instrumental piece is next, nothing too special but serves as a prologue to “Land Mines”. This track is much slower than the building pace of previous songs and is a perfect seductive type song, synthesizers working over time in the background along with a perfectly placed harp. That’s followed by “Human Racing”, a definite cousin to an Isobel Campbell song. We finish up with “What Me Worry”, a classic in the style of Tin Pan Alley complete with jazzy orchestration.

St. Vincent manages to deliver a wonderful debut album and proves she was more than just a back-up talent. Not only does she weave some very evocative, dark lyrics she manages to mix that well with traditional and experimental musical arrangement. She’s also an amazing talent, listed as performing guitars, bass, piano, organ, Moog, synthesizers, clavieta, xylophone, vibraphone, dulcimer, drum programming, triangle, percussion on the liner notes.

To listen to three tracks from Marry Me visit I Love St. Vincent.


~ by Seth on August 20, 2007.

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