For more than a decade, Annie Clark—AKA 23rd century guitar goddess St. Vincent—has stood at the forefront of avant-pop and -rock, her profile rising steadily all the while. Clark’s first five records (including her 2012 collaboration with likeminded oddball David Byrne) synthesize serrated guitars, fuzzy electronics, right-angled rhythms, and her unique sense for melody and drama in songs that are both busily arranged and tightly wound.
No one makes wiry, animatronic funk-pop feel more approachable than Clark, and if you need proof, see her 2014 self-titled album, which landed her on the season finale of Saturday Night Live and earned her a Grammy for Best Alternative Album. It’s no surprise, of course, that the latest St. Vincent record, 2017’s Masseduction, strides confidently in a new direction: still herky-jerky and ultramodern, but now with brighter synths, bigger drum machines, more personal lyrics, and more pop-star ambition that sounds perfect for some other, cooler universe.
It’s Prince and the Revolution pounding Nine Inch Nails into a wall of glass. It’s neon pink, power dynamics, leather boots, sleeping pills, and animal prints. Masseduction is every bit as strange as Clark’s previous work, but catchier and less guarded—and that’s a good thing. Most importantly, it’s reflective of an artist with outsized skills, incredible vision, and restless creativity.