ST. VINCENT – Actor (2009)

St. Vincent - Actor I’m going to talk about Feist for a second here. Yes, Feist. You know. She’s Canadian. She did that 1234 song that everybody’s heard, even if they think they haven’t. And she released her third album, The Reminder, in 2007 – it’s good, but I didn’t get to absorb my copy that much, because once Annie Clark (who performs under the name of St. Vincent) released Marry Me a few months later, well, Feist kind of dropped off the radar for me. Now, at the time, I hadn’t seen any episodes of Arrested Development (a heinous act I’ve since rectified), so the title’s in-joke was lost on me, but the playful nature of Clark’s (Vincent’s?) songs weren’t. Needless to say, I anxiously awaited Actor, and I’m pleased to report that I enjoy it as much as its predecessor, even though it’s a bit of a different beast.

While Clark’s songwriting prowess remains the same, many of the songs on Actor carry with them a deep sonic punch. While the instrumentation is mostly light baroque pop, at times, Clark pushes these songs to the point wherein they sound as if they might overload the equipment they’re being played/relayed on (particularly with Black Rainbow and Marrow). Curiously (or perhaps not – your call), the densest example of this occurs on the album’s current single, Actor Out of Work, a song whose pulse threatens to boil over by the time its two minutes have ran its course; when Clark tones the electronics down a bit, her music is every bit as sweet as it was on Marry Me (the album closer The Sequel is as lovely a song as she’s ever penned).

Actor is an album with a broad appeal, mostly due to Clark’s ability to be playful without being condescendingly quirky. Of course, she’s really not doing that; she’s merely being herself. But regardless, if you want something to get 1234 out of your head, should you hear it sometime in the future, Actor should handle that job nicely.

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