Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Actor - St Vincent

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Every so often a song comes from out of nowhere and grabs you, punches you in the balls and demands that you not only listen to it but that you immediately seek out more from where it came from. Thus it was with me and Actor Out Of Work by St Vincent (Oklahoma's Annie Clark). It might well be the most exciting two minutes and fifteen seconds of song committed to record so far this year.

Of course upon discovering that Clark was once affiliated with The Polyphonic Spree (who once used a great single to drag me into a baffling mediocre album) I did start to wonder if this was going to be another anti-climax; I'm happy to announce that it wasn't. Actor may well be my favourite album of the year so far.

Never content to limit herself to a particular style, Actor is an album that constantly surprises you. From the opening haunting choir on The Strangers to the last strings on the album closer The Sequel you will listen to this never quite knowing what's coming next. One particular case in point would be Black Rainbow whose pop symphony opening gives way to disturbing scuzzed up guitars reminiscent of some Horror film soundtrack.

Her invention perhaps reaches a peak on Marrow. With it's orchestral introduction segue-waying into a haunting choir and a drum pedal, just when you think that she couldn't throw any more in , the rock guitar kicks in and says hello to disco horns. What is perhaps more surprising is that this "kitchen sink" approach works so well. Everything just seems to fit together like this is the way you are supposed to make music.

At one point she sings "I can't see the future, but I know it has big plans for me." On the basis of this, I hope that she's right. If this isn't up there contending for my best album of the year in December, then the next six months or so must be about to serve up quite a lot of classic albums.

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