Despite all the buzz surrounding St. Vincent’s high-profile relationship and break-up with Cara Delevingne, I refuse to call “MASSEDUCTION” a breakup album. Sure, St. Vincent talks about love, including its endings, but to call it a “break-up” album seems to miss the point of the complex web she spins. With a track list that demands to be listened to in order and in one sitting, “MASSEDUCTION” offers elements of surprise while seamlessly flowing through themes of love, loss, and lust.
After a drunken phone call sung with a breathy distance (“Hang on Me”), the album plunges into the world of deep-seated desires and societal taboos. From excessive drug use (“Pills,” featuring Cara Delevingne singing with sugar-pop flair) and kink (“Savior”), to a breakdown of the norms of gender and sexuality (“Sugarboy”), the songs expose the longing for the things we aren’t supposed to want.
As “MASSEDUCTION” surges forward, the desire for pleasure starts to tangle with loss and longing. In “Los Ageless,” the song ends with the line: “I try to write you a love song but it comes out a lament,” a guiding sentiment that is infused into the remainder of the album. Songs like “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” “New York,” and “Young Lover” lament the loss of lovers to addiction, trauma, and distance, yet the pain in the lyrics serves as proof of the love St. Vincent carries with her, even through loss.
The love explored in “MASSEDUCTION” is messy and hard, even when it is good.
Through this album, St. Vincent proves that although a breakup can serve as source material, it’s only the beginning.