This album has one of those moments that sets me on fire to write about music.
On first listening, three tracks in, this album chugged along just fine. A train of well-executed ideas speeding along with no problem as I was just getting a hang of the velocity.
The fourth cut, “Sugarboy,” was slowly coming into the station, slowing and preparing for a stop.
And then it didn’t.
The horns screamed sweet mercy and the wheelset screeched bloody Mary. MASSEDUCTION zoomed passed the platform so fast the station chief didn’t even see the conductor waving her middle-finger and smiling ear-to-ear with the puckish grin of an engineer off her goddamn rocker.
“This ride is not over” announced the engine chief, “next stop, Los Ageless.”
From the gates, St. Vincent comes out firing a wild but nigh unavoidable spray of socially tinged observations. Whether the pistol-popping “Pills,” the acid-eating “Masseduction” or the zip-gunning Zastava “Los Ageless,” this album locks in and fires—seemingly without scope.
I know there’s a formula to her music—and Annie Clark does her damnedest to cover her tracks—but those vocals are undeniable. Mid-90’s alternative femrock vocals à la Tori Amos and P.J. Harvey flows in a seamless stream of facemunching drum machine and L.A. garage guitars. Hell, throw in some Alanis Morrissette in there too.
The superb record pacing doesn’t even wait, pushing the listener into the sacred pool without even thinking about it. No holy taboo broken, or perhaps so many it amounts an indecipherable count, but who gives a goddamn? Just take the record’s hand and hang on as St. Vincent sails her shipwreck from Los Angeles to “New York.”
Not until “Happy Birthday Johnny” does the album take a timely breath before diving back into alternative rock à la mode, baiting with what seems to be lighthearted fun, before Clark starts playing with her gun of guitar on “Savior.”
Seriously, her riffwork ability is supreme on MASSEDUCTION. Self-destruction never sounded so raunchy. So mean. So… fun. The guitars chew through the floor under the drummer like high-volatility acid, they tear through the synthesized textures like the roar of a suicidal Gozilla and they nibble on the ear before chomping into the neck.
Thanks to her unpredictably seductive guitarwork, the cuts grip the interest tight, trading turbulence for tranquility and then tranquility for turbulence again with little bore. Clark captains her hull to harbor as drums fill the foreboding “Smoking Section” with all the doom and gloom alternative rock has to offer.
Clark’s ability to gallop along with ideas, with no prior steps too, speaks to a creativity unbridled.
Why? Because Clark don’t need no damn bridle, stirrups or saddle. She just needs a steed and a place to go. All your ears gotta do is follow her lead—where’s she taking you, the water will taste of metal, the food is glossy with a plastic sheen and the air hums with electricity and it’s all sickening as it is thrilling.
MASSEDUCTION is an uncanny experience, constantly questioning if reality is real or worth the ire of a self-destructive rebel. The record is alive with the cacophony of rock—a rockophony, if you will—or just the sweet, sweet sound of rebellion with no cause but one hell of an attitude.
Where St. Vincent was once smooth, almost angelic, Clark now likes to rub it rough in some worn plastic sin. The ride’s bumpier but it’s also a damn sight more fun.
MASSEDUCTION can only seduce with its mix of modern electronic alternative and a vocal mode recalling the P.J. Harvey’s and Alanis Morrissette’s of the 90’s alt-rock explosion. It titillates, it tantalizes, it’s capital-g freakin’ goooooooooooooooood.
Producer(s): Jack Antonoff, St. Vincent, Lars Stalfors, John Congleton
- “Hang One Me”
- “Los Ageless”
- “Happy Birthday, Johnny”
- “New York”
- “Fear The Future”
- “Young Lover”
- “Dancing With A Ghost”
- “Slow Disco”
- “Smoking Section”