Eras of An Artist: St. Vincent

Taking a look at the trajectory of the electric indie-rock goddess

Lizzie Goncharova

Lizzie Goncharova

Annie Clark, better known by her stage name St. Vincent, is an eccentric and prolific songwriter who released five studio albums since 2007. An orchestrator of sweet melodies juxtaposed with bitter distortion and dark lyrical content, St. Vincent boasters a sound completely her own. Her unique style, however, has evolved in various ways over the years.

“Marry Me,” St. Vincent’s debut album, sets the foundation for a career full of brilliant compositions. The most innocent of her full-length releases, this album contains many easy­listening diddies, such as the title track “Marry Me,” as well as “We Put a Pearl in the Ground.” Other tracks on this album, however, do contain concepts a bit more sinister. For example, “Paris is Burning” resembles a deathly waltz straight out of a Tim Burton movie.

An orchestrator of sweet melodies juxtaposed with bitter distortion and dark lyrical content, St. Vincent has always boasted a sound completely her own.

Some of St. Vincent’s most popular hits, such as “Actor out of Work,” “Black Rainbow,” and “Laughing with a Mouth of Blood,” come from the album “Actor,” which followed two years later. Inspired by Disney music scores and silent films, this record ventures deeper into the danger and uneasiness that is often equated with St. Vincent’s work. Additionally, woodwind instruments are heard throughout the LP, giving off the feel of a structured, yet twisted, soundtrack.

“Strange Mercy,” released in 2011, introduces the theatricality that St. Vincent has incorporated not only into her live performances but into her music videos and studio recordings as well. Putting on various personas and telling accounts from perverted caricatures, Annie Clark frequently puts the spotlight on strange?-sounding guitar and synth solos, such as the danceable finale to “Surgeon.” Her eclectic choice of roles played and sounds used throughout this album made the album very popular, and St. Vincent received widespread acclaim before moving on to her next big project.

Inspired by Disney music scores and silent films, [Actor] ventures deeper into the danger and uneasiness that is often equated with St. Vincent’s work.

Backstage at a music festival a year later, Clark met David Byrne of Talking Heads, and the two hit it off while talking about each others’ music videos and previous musical works. Before long, Clark and Byrne wrote and recorded songs backed by a large brass band, gathering them onto a record entitled “Love This Giant.” The live performances of these tunes were choreographed with crazy dance moves, furthering the theatrical aspect of St. Vincent’s work.

The latest self­?titled solo album is her most widely-acclaimed record yet. Hits like “Digital Witness,” “Prince Johnny,” and “Birth in Reverse” reveal a lot of influence from her work experience with David Byrne, while illustrating a style that is still uniquely St. Vincent. Strange dance moves and costumes on stage, exaggerated vocal inflections, and a wide variety of musical style is what makes this album the most distinguishable and artistic release of all St. Vincent’s records.