St. Vincent - Masseduction

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2017-10-13
St. Vincent - Masseduction
St. Vincent - Masseduction

St. VIncent's fifth album, Masseduction, was produced by Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and Jack Antonoff at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan. It features contributions from Kamasi Washington on saxophone and Jenny Lewis & Cara Delevingne on vocals. It follows the Grammy winning St. Vincent album that was a critical, commercial and artistic leap forward for Clark.

Hang On Me has synth bass set to portamento and a slow Trip-Hop beat. Clark's vocals are right in your ear. The arrangement is left fairly sparse so as not to detract from the lyric about the end of a relationship ('I cannot stop that aeroplane from crashing.'). After Cara Delevingne's intro, a harder Electro beat drives Pills. Again there is a lot going on but it feels sparse. Clark's guitar explodes into the song at several points, in different styles - little rhythm ideas, fuzzed-out leads. The song slows down for a Bowie-like coda that is over a bit too quickly. The title track ('I can't/don't turn off what turns me on') is more chant/rap than melodic song, again the guitar crashes in regularly, always adding something. A sequenced 80s Hi-NRG synth introduces Sugarboy with it's gender fluidity ('I am a lot like you (boys), I am alone like you (girls)') and it's awesome 'Got a crush on tragedy' line. There's a lot going on here, a high G-Funk/P-Funk synth even drops in and out and it ends in total overload. By Los Ageless, Clark still hasn't delivered a great melody. The chorus is pretty big but not totally engaging. The guitar sound, however, is incredible. Just in the nick of time a more beguiling melody and chord sequence turn up for Happy Birthday, Johnny. The arrangement is beautiful - understated, but effective. Savior is quite Prince but Clark effortlessly drops an incredible little refrain into it ('Please.....'). It's moments like these or when she just throws out an incredible guitar line when you can feel the depth of her talent. To have that many skills in your arsenal and to be able to deploy them without any apparent effort is almost other-worldly.

New York is another beautiful ballad that builds and cuts out, builds and cuts out. An enormous fuzz guitar heralds the beginning of Fear The Future, along with skittering drums but when it takes off it kind of leaves me behind. Young Lover has a big, infectious Glam Rock chorus which they quite rightly make a big feature of. At under a minute, Dancing With A Ghost,is a fragment. But it's a beautiful fragment, with its soft strings. There are shades of How Soon Is Now on Slow Disco ('Am I thinking what everybody's thinking? I'm so glad I came, but I can't wait to leave.'). The song is mainly Clark and synth strings and it works so well, you feel they're just inches away from bursting into Perfect Day. This mood continues on Smoking Section which is like a shiny, modern version of a Bowie/Ronson track. Clark skillfully makes her strong voice sound fragile as she sings 'It's not the end'. But it is.Masseduction seems to be about a relationship running

Masseduction seems to be about a relationship running it's course and, as such, it's sometimes big and brash and confident, and sometimes soft and sad and fragile. I engage with St. Vincent most on the slower songs but she generally puts enough into the other songs not to lose me. To me, she does sometimes suffer from the curse of the highly-talented artist where you occasionally find yourself admiring them rather than loving them, but an awe-inspiring moment is never that far away.

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