St Vincent – St Vincent

Annie Clark is many things. Last time she spun around on the airwaves it was alongside Talking Heads’ genius David Byrne, when they collaborated for 2012’s Love This Giant. There, they got busy with a giant horn section, the after effects of which can be heard on this record on the thumping ‘Digital Witness’. Before that, she was chopping up guitars and synths on her 2011 record, Strange Mercy.

Now she’s here with her fourth record, a self-titled release that seems to announce more than anything that St Vincent is still here, and just now reaching her peak. Take the stuttering ‘Rattlesnake’, which layers grimy synths and distorted guitars into hefty art-rock groove. Or the single, ‘Birth In Reverse’, which fuels its relentless urgency with some uppity hi-hats before it splinters into a gloriously funked up breakdown. Later, she trips up and rocks out with some angular guitar playing on ‘Bring Me Your Loves’. The highpoints remain with the rockier tracks, but the slower ones like ‘I Prefer Your Love’ can still kick you sideways as Clark croons, “I prefer your love to Jesus”.

Lyrical obliqueness abounds. Sure, there’s the crunched up, jaunty fuzz that introduces single ‘Birth In Reverse’, but it’s the opening line – “Oh what an ordinary day/ Take out the garbage, masturbate” – that really kills it. On the opening track ‘Rattlesnake’, St Vincent has already taken all her clothes off in the middle of the street because she realises no one is around. Oh, and then she proceeds to snort pieces of the Berlin Wall on the third track ‘Prince Johnny’. It’s deliberately ambiguous for the most part, but occasionally cutting: on ‘Digital Witness’ she has a dig at the TMI impulse of the Facebook generation: “If I can’t show it/you can’t see me.”

St Vincent may be intimidating in its intelligence, but it remains overwhelmingly accessible. And when you’re a Pitchfork touted indie art-rocker, that’s a near impossible balance to find.