In the 10 years that have passed since Annie Clark first emerged from the Texas woodworks as St. Vincent, her very essence has seemed to undergo a radical transformation. Though such evolution is natural for any artist over the course of a lifetime, it feels especially befitting for a performer such as Clark, whose work has always tugged at the tensions between constructed, elegant beauty and the well of animalistic chaos simmering underneath. She’s gone from a charming, low-key indie starlet to a full-blown art-pop maven, and looking back upon her marvelous catalog now, we can start to see how the hints at what St. Vincent would become were secretly hidden in plain sight all along.
From her very first album, Marry Me, Annie Clark seemed to decorate her songs with a Disney-like sense of fantasy and wonder, constructing the kind of delicate, baroque pop that seemed as if it could’ve come out of a doll house. But her guitar work suggested something more contorted, tearing forth from her songs like the chestburster from Alien, and making it clear that despite how fragile her musical creations seemed to be, Clark was concealing something that absolutely needed to be freed.
As she continued to release albums like the gossamer Actor and the surreal Strange Mercy, her penchant for discordant riffs, extraterrestrial synth effects, and danceable grooves only grew stronger, but it was her meeting with David Byrne that truly signalled a major shift in her approach. After collaborating together on the funky, horn-laden Love This Giant album, Clark took a little piece of Byrne with her, and her follow-up self-titled release saw her constructing an entirely new persona whose artifice and coldness came with some of the most hard-hitting rhythms she had constructed yet. Having completed the journey from a twee curiosity into a living, Bowie-esque art-celebrity installation, her latest material sees her embracing pop music more than ever before, without losing her taste for folding the provocative into the seemingly innocent.
It seems that as time has gone on, Clark has become more and more comfortable with the violent undertones that even her earliest work had motioned towards, urging movement and release over quiet appreciation. With her latest album, MASSEDUCTION, coming down the pipeline, we took the opportunity to take stock of how far Annie Clark has come, and to ready ourselves for whichever version of St. Vincent will emerge from the chrysalis next.