St. Vincent

Marry Me | Beggars Banquet
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 30, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
Annie Clark cut her teeth performing with progressive folk wunderkind Sufjan Stevens, art-rock hero Glenn Branca, and the psych-pop orchestra the Polyphonic Spree. So it’s no surprise that the 24-year old multi-instrumentalist covers a lot of musical ground on her debut album as St. Vincent. This disc is both violent and romantic, offering warm singer-songwriter torch songs and jagged avant-noise frays with large-hearted choral flourishes. Clark’s soaring soprano is capable of hitting a Billie Holiday swoon just as easily as a sinister incantation. The lyrics find her grappling with two contradictory needs: independence and an anchor. She longs for France and a husband in “Paris Is Burning,” a song set in the midst of a revolution, but her proposal — “Marry me, John/I’ll be so good to you/You won’t realize I’m gone” — has a sinister undercurrent. “Your Lips Are Red” is a haunted-house cabaret of unrelenting kickdrum, sudden piano crashes, and violin screeches, and “Paris Is Burning” melds her nimble finger-picking with programmed beats and mangled synth fills. Clark tempers the brash experimentalism with a few safely played jazzy ballads that display her range.
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