Saturday, January 6, 2018

St. Vincent Masseduction 2017

I've just spent the last hour or so reading the "best albums of 2017" lists from all the big music review media outlets, and man, do I feel old.

I suppose there are plenty of music lovers in the AARP set that would feel the same way. But one of my favorites did in fact make it to most of those lists, St. Vincent's Masseduction.

I can't add much to the praise and descriptions you can read elsewhere, and I agree with those who have been impressed with the arc of St. Vincent's career. From the quirky pop of Marry Me 2007, to the more expansive, more dangerous Actor 2009, and on to the more inward-looking Strange Mercy 2011, St. Vincent has grown with every new release. 2014's St. Vincent rocked everyone's best-of lists, and for good reason. The increased use of St. Vincent's distorted guitar and jarring electronics, along with an outstanding set of songs all helped the 2014 release receive accolades. It was hard to see how she would top that effort. But she did.

How did she make an even better album? She added more. More precisely crafted songs. More twisted, distorted guitar (Well, not really more than the last record, but plenty). More lyrical twists somewhere between personal and frightening. More perfect arrangements layering synths and programming on top of her human voice and otherworldly guitar distortion. And a more pop sound, courtesy of producer and songwriter Jack Antonoff (P!nk, Taylor Swift, Lorde, Sara Bareilles), who does not so much change St. Vincent, but helps her become, well, more.

New music that presents a future we might just be able to live with (or, occasionally, a nightmare we cannot escape). Forward progress that integrates the best of the artist's past work while becoming something new. St. Vincent continues to venture further down the road her muse is leading her along, and we all benefit.

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