Multi instrumentalist St Vincent is back. Her fifth studio album “Masseduction” is now a very important album in St Vincent’s discography. It’s personal and takes a big step into Annie Clark’s life. Annie Clark is St Vincent. She has been using a stage name since 2006 and everybody now knows her for this. I find it very interesting when I hear an artist using a stage name, purely because it seems like they have two sides, maybe even an alter ego? (Hint hint Hannah Montana). The electro-pop goddess that is St Vincent gets called the female David Bowie. I do definitely see that, but I would say she’s more like the female David Byrne. Back to business, “Masseduction” is emotional and full of fear.
“You and me aren’t meant for this world”… but where are they meant to be? Hang On Me is full of unusual emotions of wondering where you’re supposed to be. It’s filled with extra terrestrial vibes and makes you feel like you’re floating in space. Lyrically, the lyrics are a bit cheesy and related to pop music, but the instrumentation is experimental and fun. St Vincent surely does have a futuristic pop sound that is very rare. I find this song very interesting because it kind of sounds like “Pay Me No Mind – Jeff Beck Remix” off Jeff Beck’s album “Jeff” in parts of the song. The bass is filled with midi goodness and the orchestral piano really sets the love of who St Vincent is talking too. The way St Vincent pours her heart out in this song feels like a cry for help.
“Pills” is introduced by the famous model, “Cara Delevingne”, who happens to be St Vincent’s now ex girlfriend. When the song first starts it sounds like a really weird advert that is constantly played on repeat and will never leave your brain. Apparently, this song is actually influenced by Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”, and I can kind of hear that. It’s humorous but definitely more experimental than Eminem. The distorted guitar really does make the song rock. St Vincent is actually a really underrated guitarist. Just over half way through the song, it goes into a really weird half beat timing and then starts playing chords that sound like they could be on a bloody Foo Fighters song. St Vincent is weird and definitely surprising. The ending sounds like a complete rip off of “Eclipse” by Pink Floyd, but the way that St Vincent does it really makes her pull it off. Very interesting and fun song. It’s definitely growing on me.
The title track of the album “Masseduction” is a play on words. Mass seduction, my seduction, seduction of the masses. It could be linked with being seduced or even being the seducer. The song samples the bonus track of the album “Power Corrupts” with Toko Yasuda doing vocals in Japanese. The song sounds like a really hip cheerleading song. It’s electronically wonderful. This is definitely a song that proves St Vincent is an underrated guitarist, she uses harmonically easy guitar chords which complete the song. It’s straight to the point and its noisy and rough. This song is probably the definition of “Art Rock”. If Daft Punk were a full rock band…this is what they’d sound like. Love it.
The pulse of this song could definitely be linked with “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer, which is really interesting. The whole song really reminds me of something that Prince would have written. It’s really interesting to hear so many influences coming out of St Vincent’s music. “Sugarboy” could be a seductive song if you really think about it. The way St Vincent says “Sugarboy”, it really rolls off her tongue seductively. This song is filled with bold guitar riffs and heavy drums. It sits very well in the 80’s… but why the 80’s? Maybe it’s because St Vincent likes the sound of the 80’s and the over production that past artists used. This song is obviously very over produced, bit generic, but strong.
“Los Ageless” is a play on the city of Los Angeles and references lyrics from another song on this album; “New York”. It’s associated towards the genres of dance rock/new wave and the fuzzy guitar really compliments the song. The whole album is definitely more influenced by the 80’s compared to other era’s. I don’t personally like this song as much as some of the others on the album. It feels a bit too structured for St Vincent and not as experimental as her other stuff. The production on this is good though. The album was actually produced by St Vincent and Jack Antonoff (out of the band “fun.”) I really like the ending with how the chords are descending, gives the song an “Eleanor Rigby” kind of feel. The spoken words really set the mood.
An ode to St Vincent’s friend, Johnny. “Happy Birthday, Johnny” could be took as another interpretation of her song “Prince Johnny” which featured on her last album “St Vincent.” It’s quite a down in the dumps song, because you can tell that whoever Johnny may be, they’re depressed and very close to just giving up. It’s a delicate song but so very powerful. The lyrics in the song tells a story, which could be linked with the genre of folk music. To summarise it up though, this song is very personal. With the lyric “Of course, I blame me”, St Vincent could be finding things hard too. It could all be linked with Anxiety maybe? An emotional ballad to say the least.
The next song on this lovely album, really showcases St Vincent’s vocal range. With stabbing vocals as well as the angelic noises of “Please.” The song is experimental and oozes with talent. It could also be linked towards a cry for help for the audience.. are we needing a Savior? Could St Vincent help us with her amazing music? I think so. The instrumentation is weird and could definitely be influenced by the Talking Heads again. If you haven’t checked out St Vincent’s album with David Byrne, I’d advise you do, it’s stunning.
Short but sweet, “New York” is about the mourning of a relationship ending. It was the first single released from “Masseduction” and St Vincent has been performing this song for over a year now. It’s unlike St Vincent’s previous material, but you can definitely hear her personal side coming out more in this album, maybe we’ll start calling her by her actual name, Annie Clark, if she carries on being so emotional and personal. Jokingly aside, it’s nice to hear a songwriter getting so deep with her songs as it definitely helps make a connection with an audience. Overall, the structure of the lyrics are really unique, but the actual chord progressions are harmonically bland. Feels like there’s something big missing from this song, maybe some more experimental jazz chords would sit nicer?
“Fear the Future” is definitely more like St Vincent’s previous material than the last song. We all fear the future, it’s a natural thing for a human because we have no idea what’s going to happen round the corner. A lovely drum and bass, futuristic genre sits over this song. The ending is really good too as it just stops out of the blues. I thought my internet had died or something, but no, it was just the song ending! St Vincent surprises me every time I hear something of hers. She’s a great songwriter, but definitely a better arranger.
Melodically, it feels like “Young Lover” is a bit flat. Something just doesn’t sound quite right. The way she sings “No, I” in the chorus is really original, but I don’t think it fits well with it harmonically, but then again a lot of St Vincent’s stuff is like that. Towards the ending when St Vincent goes up a few octaves to reach those notes, it just completely blew me away. I didn’t release she could sing that high! She definitely goes all Mariah on this song. Not the best song on the album, but still, it’s good.
The shortest song on the album is “Dancing with a Ghost.” It’s St Vincent’s first instrumental song since “We Put a Pearl in the Ground” off her debut album It fits lovely on the album, and it’s always really nice to have a short song to recapture the audience’s attention. As the song ends we go straight into “Slow Disco.” She includes the words “Dancing with a Ghost” in this song which is interesting as obviously the last song was called that. Once again, this is another delicate powerful song. It’s lovely to see St Vincent being so versatile with this album. It’s definitely growing on me with each time I listen to it.
Last track on the album we have “Smoking Section.” It’s very raw and the leads vocals are absolutely stunning. They’re quite dry as well (not got many effects on them) which definitely adds an eerie feel to the song. The slow pulse of the song reminds me of the drum beat’s they use in iconic “50 Shades of Grey” songs.. which is a bit unusual. The song is depressing and makes me feel sad for St Vincent because a lot of these songs on the album are related to her sadness and heartbreak. Maybe it’s her break up record from Cara Delevingne. It’s so good to hear her writing music again that is so raw. In the world we live in now, it’s so hard to be ‘original.’
The Japanese bonus track “Power Corrupts” sounds like a song that Thundercat would write. I mentioned this song earlier in the review. If you haven’t heard it, there’s a link above to it! It’s actually all a sample, technically, because it’s a japanese language reprise of the record’s title track “Masseduction.” With Toko Yasuda singing the lead and St Vincent singing the chorus. It’s a really cool song.
I am absolutely loving this album. It’s definitely one of the best albums of 2017.
I’m very excited to hear future albums by St Vincent as her music is so powerful
Score – 8/10
Favourite Tracks: Hang On Me, Pills, Masseduction, Sugarboy, Savior, Fear the Future, Smoking Section