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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews


St. Vincent
Strange Mercy

Annie Clark has the makings of a music star. She's undeniably talented, she has a gorgeous voice, she can waltz her fingers up and down a fret board with ease, she's not half bad to look at. And yet her music — for the most part — fucking grates me.

Firstly, she's not the best at writing hooks and she's a couple of pop songwriting chops short of crafting much better music. I get that she's the arty, fuck the man, "I dropped out of Berkley 'cos I was too far out of the box" type, and that she likes to explore space and song structure. However, with this type of music I find it really hard to maintain my focus and attention without something anchoring me to the tune. Every time I think the sharp spine of a hook is going to pierce the skin of one of her songs, she goes ahead and rips it out, letting the rest of the tune bleed out on the cold, bare floor.

Then there's the incessant use of distortion where it just isn't necessary. The effect is obviously used to mark her 'style' or her 'schtick' but it just becomes irritating. If I wanted to hear a pretty girl sing while loosening earwax I'd chuck on some Norah Jones and skull fuck myself with an electric toothbrush. I do not want to experience that with St. Vincent.

I'm not saying I hate everything she does. The Strangers on her last album was a stunning song, and Chloe In The Afternoon gets Strange Mercy off to an interesting kick, but I can't physically sit there and listen to a whole St. Vincent album without jamming the tip of my pinky into my ear to stop the incessant itching. I also feel that there's way too much crammed into St Vincent's music and it's production. At time's it's really overly complex, where a barebones recording could have served the song so much better (see: the title track).

Then there's stuff that's just bad. Show me someone that enjoys the song Cheerleader and I'll show you a fucking liar and/or someone born with the unfortunate disability of not having any ears. It's just terrible. Oh, and listen to the start of Champagne Year and tell me you can't hear Hallelujah. Seriously, try.

Surgeon is a song I think I would have liked, but again there's just too much going on in and around the vocals. That and someone keeps fucking with the pitch shifter dial, which actually makes me feel nauseous. What a waste.

I keep listening to Annie Clark's music, and I keep hoping that she would have learned something from her former collaborators Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree. And yet she keeps disappointing me. And wasting a container of cotton ear buds.

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St. Vincent


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I'm down with this. She has the potential to be brilliant but it's borderline unlistenable. I saw an interview where she described her music a bit like a panic attack. In that sense I guess she's nailing it. Incredible guitarist / voice too...

9 years ago

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