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CD review: St. Vincent’s ‘St. Vincent’

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Annie Zaleski

Three stars

St. Vincent St. Vincent

St. Vincent (aka singer-songwriter Annie Clark) tends to be most compelling when she’s creating friction—say, by pairing abrasive guitar rhythms or macabre imagery with tranquil orchestral flourishes or trilling vocals. On her self-titled fourth solo album, that’s certainly the case. “Rattlesnake”—a true story about fleeing from a poisonous snake—is strutting, perforated funk; siren-like vocal wails mesh with rubbery, post-punk distortion on “Birth in Reverse”; the sharp-tongued “Digital Witness” boasts marching-band-like horn shards; and “Huey Newton” evolves from bubbly electro-pop with sandpaper beats into a PJ Harvey-caliber glam snarl. Clark can’t sustain that strangeness, however, and sometimes-thin songwriting becomes evident on an unmemorable (and non-abrasive) second half. Only the final song, “Severed Crossed Fingers”—a gooey ’70s AM Gold trifle on which Clark is a dead ringer for The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde—manages to be both powerful and straightforward.

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