Four records into her career, Annie Clark decided to self-title a record. St. Vincent is the most St. Vincent-y thing she's ever done. The guitar solos are more unhinged, the rhythms are more angular and the lyrics portray an anxious and sharp mind.
And more than ever before, Clark is working with an enormous palette of textures. You can catch echoes of her collaboration with David Byrne in funky horn lines. Her standout guitar work gets alternately crunchy and completely alien in the distortion. The bass on "Birth In Reverse" is so blown out that it has more of a feeling than a distinct tone.
Clark is once again bound to put off people who find this stuff too eccentric. The songs are prone to weird developments and sharp turns. There's a moment on “Huey Newton” when it sounds like the synth melody, once painted carefully with distinct lines, got smeared all over the place. That's right before the song gets scary -- an overwhelming, fuzzy bass is the backdrop for a distorted, wailing chorus and Clark singing more menacingly than we've ever heard from her before.
That song is also one of the tracks on which Clark tackles our digital world. It sounds like she's lazily stumbling around the internet, eyes glazed over. "Digital Witness," of course, covers the same ground. "What's the point in even sleeping / if I can't show it, you can't see me? / What's the point of doing anything?" Those kind of lines make it pretty clear what she's getting at, which makes St. Vincent more lyrically straightforward than anything before it.
St. Vincent is just more. It's everything we expect from Clark, taken to new heights. It's weird as hell and frequently unsettling, and it's beautiful.