His & Hers Album Review: St. Vincent's "Masseduction"

"His"

This review is an attempt to separate the person and the music. As a musician myself, this tends to be difficult with art because music is often a reflection of who the artist is as a person. This was my first time listening to St. Vincent, aside from the work that she did with Bon Iver. My wife, however, had been awaiting the release of her new album and upon it’s debut asked me to listen to some of the songs. I began with “Hang On Me” and “Pills,” and was so bored with the hypnotic backbeats that after the first two songs I turned the album off. After giving the album another chance and fully devoting my attention to the songs, I saw a piece of what all the hype was about.

For me, the album seems to be split into two. The first part includes the songs “Los Ageless,” “Pills,” and “Sugarboy” that are upbeat, feature a drum machine, and are fuzz guitar driven. However, there seems to be a struggle between different instruments, and even with the use of different samples they just didn’t seem to flow well together. Or, when they did flow together, it wasn’t as dynamic as it could’ve. The second part of the album features more piano, strings, slide guitar, and stronger melodies. This, I love. I had almost given up on the album until track six, “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” came on. It’s a beautiful song that starts suddenly with St. Vincent’s voice and simple keys driving the song; this song moved me and in that I saw the merit of this album. There were a few more songs of this characterization like “New York,” “Dancing with a Ghost,” “Slow Disco,” and, “Smoking Section.”

I found the album shows the complexity of the creative person–to create two different sounds, and still have parts of them that call back to who they are as an artist is an incredible accomplishment. The lyrics are heartfelt and cover topics from love lost to overdosing on prescription pills, and a ton of thoughts and feeling in between. Overall a well-crafted project, but just not for me.

- JT Mercer

 

"Hers"

When it comes to albums of 2017, one that really sticks out to me is St. Vincent’s Masseduction. There is something so personal and intimate about this album that I really loved. St. Vincent, a.k.a Annie Clark, even said herself, “if you want to know about my life, listen to this record.” In the past, St. Vincent kept us listeners at an arm’s distance when we heard her songs. That seems to have changed in this new album. Her songs range in topics from sex, celebrity, consumerism, drugs, and gender issues.

My personal favorite from the album is “Pills.” It’s so upbeat and catchy with a seemingly twisted medication advertisement as the chorus, but Clark is using her own experience with sleeping pills to inspire the lyrics. She has said that “Pills” uses, “language of advertising to talk about a very personal story and also a very uniquely American macro story about capitalism run amuck on mental health, and an opioid crisis as a result.” Another great song on the album is “New York,” which was released as a single before the album dropped. This song is filled with strings as Clark’s understatedly great voice croons over her loss. The dynamics of the song and Clark’s ability to convey her emotions through her voice allow the listener to dive in and put themselves in her place. It really hits me when she sings, “you’re the only motherfucker in the city who’d forgive me.” This song is so heartbreaking thanks to it’s relatable content. I know so many people who know what it’s like to have loved and lost, but despite it all, would do it all over again. That is the beauty of this album for me.

Though Clark is still slightly cryptic in her lyrics, everyone can find something to relate to in this album. It’s beautifully written, both lyrically and musically, and one of my top albums of 2017.

- Becca Mercer