ST VINCENT’S fifth solo outing Masseduction is an eclectic folly around the sky scraping guitar riffs and razzmatazz of Annie Clark’s downtown Manhattan. By turn confident and calculated, this window into her apartment is ajar with a fragility unseen on previous albums. If 2014’s eponymous breakthrough was the night out, then this record is the morning after.
Opening in suitably subdued manner, ‘Hang On Me’ is an affecting rumination on an estranged relationship which nods to the sound-scaping of Kanye West circa 808s and Heartbreak.
‘Pills’ offers lyrical continuum to The Rolling Stones’ ‘Mother’s Little Helper’, raising an anxious eyebrow to the culture of both prescription and self medicated drug use against a tongue-in-cheek chorus so catchy that it feels more like a 50’s wireless radio jingle.
By the time we reach title track ‘Masseducation’ and the Donna Summer evoking ‘Sugarboy’, we breach far more familiar territory when subjected to some stupendously angular guitar workouts. “Don’t turn off it turns me on!” Annie exclaims. Indeed.
Her current single ‘Los Ageless’ swaggers with unbridled New Yorker aplomb but as the chorus descends to an unravelling motif of “how can anybody have you and lose you and not lose their mind too?!”, one can’t help but be drawn to the singer’s well-documented split from Cara Delevingne.
From here the hangover truly kicks in through ‘Happy Birthday Johnny’, ‘Savior’ and initial album teaser ‘New York’. These plaintive cuts offer heart wrenching insight to the psyche of an artist who has maintained incredible privacy throughout her new found stardom.
Pick me up comes via the electro romp of ‘Fear The Future’ and ‘Young Lover’ while the sweeping string majesty of ‘Slow Disco’ will draw obvious comparisons to fellow chameleonic innovator Madonna.
We’re left alone again in the piano bar at closing time with sultry ballad ‘Smoking Section’. For the first time on the album the electronic drum kit and synths are subbed out for analogue instrumentation as Annie croons a coda of “it’s not the end”. That much is true and while this album may not always feel quite as cohesive as her last, St Vincent is piecing together a body of work that will in time place her alongside the art pop illuminati.