By Selena Puente
St. Vincent, otherwise known as Annie Clark, is an artist who has been turning heads lately, especially with her most recent release. On Record Store Day Black Friday, 2014. St. Vincent released a 10-inch record with one song she is known for playing at live shows, “Pieta,” and a completely new release, “Sparrow.” The album itself is beautiful, both musically and in its appearance. It was designed by Willo Perron, who has done everything from visuals for Jay Z’s “Magna Carta … Holy Grail” cover, to making the Goodnight Bar in Toronto, a bar that uses mystery staircases, reclaimed ship pallets and wood to create a homey but surrealist venue. The album he created for St. Vincent was more similar to his sleeker projects — the 10-inch is hot pink, and the record sleeve is mint green and cobalt blue on one side and pink and mint on the other. The sweetness of the combination makes the viewer feel like he is about to experience ice cream, shooting stars and pure luxury.
True to this expectation, the album is luxurious. Both songs are slow to build and ooze over the speakers. They show a more mature St. Vincent. Her past three albums have been similarly experimental, and they all seem to represent different phases in her life. These two singles are as clean as “Digital Witness” and as earthy as “Actor Out of Work.” Of the two, “Pieta” is the stronger track; it combines tropical beats like those from her “Romeo and Juliet” reinvention “Human Racing,” haunting vocals and lyrics that paint a picture of a scene straight out a Woody Allen movie, most likely “Annie Hall.” Clark croons softly:
“Baptized in the shallow end/ Of a Holiday Inn/ Limbs dangled over my Pa/ Like an inverse Pietà/ Mother Nature cried/ ‘You are Leviathan, my child/ You are Leviathan inside’/ And my lungs runneth over/ With chlorinated water/ And I pleaded with my Pa/ And he said ‘I can’t carry you no more.’”
The song breathes like a proper pop art song should. “Sparrow” bubbles and fizzes like a properly chaotic and equally religiously curious counterpart:
“No eyes are on the sparrow, eyes are on the sparrow/ I could’ve told you that/ The finch keeps gathering all the branches/ Ignoring all the chances the wind will blow it flat/ And they’re calling Maria/ Momma, Momma Maria/ They’re calling Maria.”
“Sparrow” will shoot the listener back to the craziness of Clark’s track “Your Lips Are Red,” and evoke punk dreams of dancing at a Ramones concert. This 10-inch is the one of the best musical efforts of the past five years. It is strange, as per classic Clark, and refreshing to hear an artist who presents a complete musical product: lyrically, musically and aesthetically. In short, listen to St. Vincent, and allow yourself to experience an artist who is committed to art, and most importantly, to beauty and fun.