TERRIBLE NOISE: St. Vincent’s latest: Lessons left to learn – Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. — “Challenging” can’t be the right word to describe a record as polished and stadium-ready as St. Vincent’s new release, “Masseducation,” but the word keeps occurring to me as I listen to the record and I’d like to figure out why.

It isn’t a radical break from previous records. It’s mature work, pushing the boundaries but of a piece with the past. I suppose part of the reason it’s “challenging” is the willingness to experiment and veer off into the curious corners that Annie Clark built into her music from the beginning.

While crumbling old rock dudes like myself perk up our ears every time she brings the guitar forward into the mix, that kind of shredding isn’t the centerpiece (even though it easily could be). These days the trick seems to be to work in the guitar in ways that almost disguise it. Those sorts of strange rumbles and undertones surface here and there, but I’d describe this album as more funk than punk, on average, though that’s by degrees.

In general, you might say any given St. Vincent album is more about leading than following, which is of course one of the main draws, as much as you might want any particular sound repeated. (For me, that would be “Krokodil,” a nonalbum single that’s all-in on guitar heroics and snarling vocals. It was a departure, yet at the same time all of its individual elements can be found throughout the surrounding albums, cut up and spread across a dozen other songs.)

“Masseducation” is, I suppose, rather provocative as well, from its risqué art design to its occasional embrace (especially in the very lovely and quiet “New York”) of bracing obscenity, which isn’t really all that unusual but lends the record a jolt like a strong cup of coffee. Clark also continues to comment on certain aspects of our current technological environment in ways that almost feel like personal call-outs, if you happen to be, say, a writer who cannot put down his phone long enough to finish anything on time.

Anyway, there are plenty of quick and easy pleasures to be had throughout “Masseducation,” but this is a record I’ll need to live with for a while.

• Simon Sizer is the legal and obituary clerk at the Yakima Herald-Republic. He’s constantly prattling on about music, so we gave him this column.

YAKIMA, Wash. — “Challenging” can’t be the right word to describe a record as polished and stadium-ready as St. Vincent’s new release, “Masseducation,” but the word keeps occurring to me as I listen to the record and I’d like to figure out why.

It isn’t a radical break from previous records. It’s mature work, pushing the boundaries but of a piece with the past. I suppose part of the reason it’s “challenging” is the willingness to experiment and veer off into the curious corners that Annie Clark built into her music from the beginning.

While crumbling old rock dudes like myself perk up our ears every time she brings the guitar forward into the mix, that kind of shredding isn’t the centerpiece (even though it easily could be). These days the trick seems to be to work in the guitar in ways that almost disguise it. Those sorts of strange rumbles and undertones surface here and there, but I’d describe this album as more funk than punk, on average, though that’s by degrees.

In general, you might say any given St. Vincent album is more about leading than following, which is of course one of the main draws, as much as you might want any particular sound repeated. (For me, that would be “Krokodil,” a nonalbum single that’s all-in on guitar heroics and snarling vocals. It was a departure, yet at the same time all of its individual elements can be found throughout the surrounding albums, cut up and spread across a dozen other songs.)

“Masseducation” is, I suppose, rather provocative as well, from its risqué art design to its occasional embrace (especially in the very lovely and quiet “New York”) of bracing obscenity, which isn’t really all that unusual but lends the record a jolt like a strong cup of coffee. Clark also continues to comment on certain aspects of our current technological environment in ways that almost feel like personal call-outs, if you happen to be, say, a writer who cannot put down his phone long enough to finish anything on time.

Anyway, there are plenty of quick and easy pleasures to be had throughout “Masseducation,” but this is a record I’ll need to live with for a while.

• Simon Sizer is the legal and obituary clerk at the Yakima Herald-Republic. He’s constantly prattling on about music, so we gave him this column.

Original post – 

TERRIBLE NOISE: St. Vincent’s latest: Lessons left to learn – Yakima Herald-Republic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *