Filed under: Best of 2009 Albums | Tags: Actor, Annie Clark, Arcade Fire, best of 2009, Death Cab for Cutie, Grizzly Bear, Releases of the Week, St. Vincent, sufjan stevens, the Polyphonic Spree, Urban Outfitters
PREVIEW: VISIT St. Vincent’s MySpace
TOP TRACK: “The Strangers”
Annie Clark, the adorable, skinny, curly-haired musician behind St. Vincent has been connected with some of the biggest names in indie music. Clark dropped out of Berklee College of Music to join The Polyphonic Spree, and sang with Sufjan Stevens on his 2006 tour. She’s opened for huge acts such as Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie. Plus, she’s currently touring with Grizzly Bear.
Her latest effort, Actor, is an audible treat. The Brooklyn-based Clark has put together the ideal internal soundtrack for the best day ever, with the album. St. Vincent released Actor in May and its beauty stunned listeners. The first track, “The Strangers” opens with a hauntingly moving choral and woodwind arrangement, introducing us to a world far, far away of St. Vincent’s playful melodies and clever lyrics. “The Strangers” is a dynamic song that presents a musical journey more complex than that of many entire albums. A steady bass drum keeps the song connected throughout. Clark’s voice is relatively staid and mellow. Haunting instrumental breaks provide a heavy contrast to her singing.
“Actor out of Work” was the single release from Actor–you may have heard it on the Urban Outfitters’ playlist (don’t be ashamed, we know you’re downloading it). The song demonstrates St. Vincent’s songwriting talent. From a bit of an electronic feel to the guitar line to an operatic chorus, the song combines seemingly disparate sounds into pure cohesion. With a quick escalation into the chorus, Clark creates the perfect pop song condensed into 2:15.
With Actor, St. Vincent proved her ability to surprise with music that is perfectly pop despite an odd mix of mysterious melodies, choral backgrounds and a dash of straight-up adorability. However, it serves her well, with the contrast directly contributing to the effort’s overall success.