Does Annie Clark want to be a star? Her fifth album as St Vincent is a fitful collision of pop ambition — Bleachers hitmaker Jack Antonoff is among the collaborators — and bittersweet reflections on fame.
She gained a ringside perspective on celebrity as reported partner of model/actress Cara Delevingne — and life among the A-listers obviously did not set well with the deadpan Texan.
Clark has always been a spiky songwriter — but here the edges are sharper than ever. ‘New York’ ruminates on failed love, even as it seems to grow a little giddy on self pity.
The other big obvious single Los Ageless mashes a bubblegum chorus with sardonic lyrics about the emptiness of success ( in the accompanying video Clarke is violently remodelled so as to stay pristine and ever youthful).
Here and there are sprinklings of Clark’s virtuosic guitar playing — she is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost technicians of the age — and the zinging ‘Young Lover’ confirms she hasn’t lost her flair for rocking out.
Some of the experiments don’t quite work, however. ‘Sugarboy’ dances with the ghost of electroclash (it could have been on the first Fischerspooner LP) and the didactic lyrics of the Scary Monsters-tinged ‘Pills’ would have you believe Clark is the first person to
recognise the dark side of America’s culture of mass medication.
Moreover, the pop forays occasionally veer the wrong side of catchy, so that Clark sounds like a clever-clogs Taylor Swift impersonator (it is of course possible that this is entirely by design).
Masseduction is ultimately an exquisite muddle. More than anything it represents a throwing back of the curtains as Clark acknowledges her moment has come and, unwilling or not, steps into the light. It’s a catchy album that makes for deeply uneasy listening. Heavens knows what she has in store as she brings her new tour to Dublin next week.