St Vincent

St Vincent

St Vincent

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(Loma Vista)

After three albums on the august 4AD imprint, the last a 2012 collaboration with David Byrne, US multi-instrumentalist and former Polyphonic Spree member Annie Clark has jumped ship for a new home, boutique label Loma Vista. And while her eponymous fourth solo album re-uses a few of the stylistic flourishes she and Byrne cooked up together - jittery funk, horn stabs, subdued electronica - she fuses them here to something more personal. Much has already been made of the confessional opening line of current single Birth In Reverse - "Another ordinary day: take out the garbage, masturbate" - and it leads an album on which there are several love songs as well as other compositions whose lyrics are so damnably allusive that they could be anything: Prince Johnny, for instance, a soaring torch song built on a bed of wafting synths and 80s beats, and Huey Newton, whose title suggests a paean to the founder of the Black Panthers but which in Clark's hands becomes something else entirely as it descends into a Metallica-style guitar wigout and a sung incantation that references everything from internet trolls to Hagia Sophia and comet Halle Bopp. A puzzler, then, but one worthy of study.

Barry Didcock