By Katie Olson
Although February brought days devoted to love and past presidents, the best one is yet to come. As you may or may not know, new music is often released on the Tuesday of every week, and this Tuesday demands your attention.
Annie Clark, better known by her stage name, St. Vincent, is releasing her fourth full-length studio album, self-titled St. Vincent. It’s been about a year and a half since she released Love This Giant, a collaborative album with David Byrne of Talking Heads.
On the same day, Beck’s Morning Phase is scheduled for release. This album will be his 12th full-length studio effort in just over a decade of work.
Both albums are sonically and lyrically excellent in their own ways.
St. Vincent’s St. Vincent
Ever since releasing Marry Me in 2007, Annie Clark has been, for lack of a better word, proving herself in the music industry. A multi-instramentalist with an unorthodox musical style, Clark brings something new to the table with every album. For St. Vincent, she compliments her familiar guitar distortion with cabaret jazz and a little R&B. Clark wastes no time getting down to it as the second track professes, “Oh what an ordinary day/ Take out the trash, masturbate”.
The singles released for the album are titled “Birth In Reverse” and “Digital Witness”. I appreciate how much effort Clark puts into her work visually, as well as musically. The music video for “Digital Witness” is a work of art, reminiscent of the German modernist movement around the time of the Bauhaus. It’s hard to keep your eyes off of the bold, gradient greens and sharp angles, as well as Clark’s new white ‘do.
Aside from being stylistically different in a musical sense, St. Vincent presents itself as a smoother, more level effort as opposed to her other albums. For example, songs like “Cruel” and “Cheerleader” off of 2011’s Strange Mercy garnered fame while songs like “Dilettante” and “Hysterical Strength” weren’t as successful, even though they were on the same album. I firmly believe that listening to this album all in one sitting will be more enjoyable than listening to it piece by piece. (All the more reason to buy a copy on vinyl!)
Here’s the track list:
02 Birth in Reverse
03 Prince Johnny
04 Huey Newton
05 Digital Witness
06 I Prefer Your Love
08 Bring Me Your Loves
10 Every Tear Disappears
11 Severed Crossed Fingers
Beck’s Morning Phase
When I began listening to this album for the first time, I was walking around my college campus. About halfway into the 39-second-long opening track “Cycle”, I had to sit down because I was so in love. (Okay, maybe it was the combination of the song and the fact that the sun had just come out from behind the clouds.)
“Cycle”, the lyric-less, orchestral introduction to the album leads seamlessly into the second track, “Morning”. With every song, I began to wish that the album was titled in the plural as Morning Phases, because every track made me feel more awake.
Two singles were released off the album, titled “Blue Moon” and “Waking Light”. The first is a strong, drum-driven anthem that is delightfully sprinkled with mandolin chords. “Waking Light” is the album closer, and serves as the album’s classic piano ballad.
The one thing I take away from this album is that it is incredibly sensory. You can almost feel the crisp spring air on your face when you listen to it, or lounging in bed while sunlight falls through the window. Needless to say, I’m already establishing a habit of turning it on in the morning and listening to it throughout the day as a rise and shine ritual.
Here’s the track list:
03 Heart Is A Drum
04 Say Goodbye
05 Blue Moon
08 Don’t Let It Go
09 Blackbird Chain
11 Turn Away
12 Country Down
13 Waking Light
St. Vincent has already announced tour dates, but Beck is only scheduled to play music festivals so far.