Build a nest for us to sleep in
Annie Clark has style. Recording as St. Vincent, the Texan native and Sufjan alum has charm to the max, a voice that can scoop into the lower registers, and a confidence that wins me over every time. But just as importantly, she has styles, with songs that draw on a gamut of genres and moods. There's the electric guitar squeal on opener "Now Now," wailing through the outro and suggesting more rockiness to come. Instead, we're then treated to romantic love songs, percussion-led snapalongs, cabaret-pop and piano interludes. The songs synthesize lots of influences into a cohesive set, where everything flows lovelily for the forty-three-minutes plus of Marry Me.
The centerpiece of the album though is still "Paris is Burning," even so long since its first appearance. A manic waltz, it starts out slowly and spills into a nimble melody for whirling dervishes. It's something Kate Bush could've done circa Hounds of Love, which, coupled with the obvious Feist comparison and maybe some Cat Power, starts to give you a sense of its abundant style.
Even more than those women though, Clark has a special playfulness with lyrics that must be noted. She takes on subjects as weighty as war, religion, faith, love and desire, but finds fresh ways to elucidate them. On the title track, she's flirting her way down the aisle, imploring, "Let's do what Mary and Joseph did/ Without the kid." On "Your Lips Are Red," she says (semi-autobiographically, it'd seem), "Your skin's so fair, it's not fair." She might even get meta on us, opening a midpoint song with "Wait! I'll be swifter than the speed of light," as if afraid our attention is waning, and closing the album with a sinuous "I'm outta here." By that point though, I'm too enchanted to stop listening. Right away, I start back up at the top, swifter than the speed of light being my style of choice.
* MP3: "Paris Is Burning" - St. Vincent from Marry Me
* MP3: "Your Lips Are Red" - St. Vincent from Marry Me [Buy it]
* Artist MySpace: St. Vincent