This Friday St. Vincent is set to release her fifth album to date (not counting her wonderful David Byrne collaboration Love This Giant), the follow up to her incredible self-titled 2014 LP which we’re still dizzy over. This new album by the guitar goddess also know as Annie Clark is titled MASSEDUCTION and pronounced Mass Seduction. As it’s namesake implies, the record is a sleek and sexy one that also acts as a revealing text making it Clark’s most personal record yet. The Grammy award-winner who now has a signature Ernie Ball Music Man guitar to her name is a seasoned pro at what she does and is as prolific as ever with her latest sonic offering.
MASSEDUCTION is a record full of power struggles both external and within the self, marinated in anxiety & laced with subtle humour that was co-produced by Jack Antonoff alongside Clark at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan, with some additional recording at Brooklyn’s Rough Consumer Studio and Compound Fracture in Los Angeles. In a tongue in cheek promo video St. Vincent cites political speeches, GPS and ragtime as inspiration. In truth, the album is more so influenced by the cities Clark recorded in, as she reflects upon her space and time in them as we’ve already heard “Los Ageless” (which she sings through a clenched smile) & “New York” (which she sings as if she’s fighting back tears).
— St. Vincent (@st_vincent) October 5, 2017
The record opens subtly with resting heartbeat tempo outsider anthem “Hang On Me” but things quickly get kicked up a notch with the staccato & bouncy “Pills,” featuring Kamasi Washington on saxophone, drum programming by (Kendrick Lamar adjacent producer) Sounwave and Jenny Lewis along with Cara Delevingne singing on the chorus (as “Kid Monkey”). It’s sex drugs and rock n’roll (but in this case the drugs are prescription). Title track “Masseduction” has Clark confessing that she can’t turn off what turns her on, over robotic bleeps & bloops alongside thick distorted spiky sprinkles of guitar. The lyrics turn from “mass seduction” into “mass destruction” as our narrator slowly melts into the madness. Clark made her directorial debut since her last record is indeed also the director of her own universe in MASSEDUCTION. She’s bold and unafraid. Raw and vulnerable with undeniable power.
“Sugarboy” is a total 80s fantasy with disco synths that race to the finish line. “I am a lot like you,” Clark remarks in this new queer anthem as Pet Shop Boys-esque backup vocals chant binary gender titles. It’s a playful and sweet song made for you to sweat to. On the flip side, “Happy Birthday Johnny” is a soft and sentimental ballad that Clark casts out to a lost friend. It’s emotional as heck as Cark admits she blames herself.
If MASSEDUCTION was a car it’d be a little red corvette à la Prince and half way through the album Clark takes it on another sharp turn with the sexy “Savoir.” She lets out her inner freak with lyrics like “dress me in leather/now that’s a little better” on a track full of whispers that opens with her recounting a kind of nurse & teacher role play that takes traditional conceptions of kink and turns it on it’s head. It’s her most erotic song yet, never mind the fact that the album art for this record is literally someone bent over in red stilettos and a leopard print ass-revealing thong cut leotard. “Fear The Future” is a dystopian tale told through electronic drums that clash and echo into space. It’s twitchy and frantic yet steady as Clark remarks that her baby is “lost to the monster.”
While one doesn’t wish to speculate, it’s hard to imagine “Young Lover” about anyone other than Clark’s rumoured past partner Delevingne (or maybe it’s Kristen Stewart). On the track, Clarks sings about finding a lover passed out in the bathtub with their clothes on as she laments that she wishes to be their drug & that the love was enough. Clark’s voice soars strong and high along with her guitar like some kind of majestic birds in migration as the track builds and comes to an unresolved end. The record winds down with “Dancing With A Ghost” (an eleven second echo of a memory) and the sway worthy “Slow Disco,” full of orchestral strings that pull along to your heartstrings as well. The album comes to a close with “Smoking Section” which drifts off like a haunting lullaby.
With MASSEDUCTION, Clark gracefully cements herself as an icon comparable to Bowie with guitars that punch you in the face as she get poetic on the concept of celebrity, diving deeper into the interconnectedness of humanity. She highlights the space between us all, both digitally and physically. URL and IRL. And she does it all with a wink.