The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

St. Vincent proposes an impressive debut

Annie Clark, the multitalented songstress behind the name of new music act St. Vincent, may be said to owe some of her debut album’s success to friends in high places. After all, the 24-year-old Dallas native has kept busy these past few years by contributing her mad guitar and mandolin skills to two of indie’s holiest entities, Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree. Her solo debut, “Marry Me,” is an inventive, enchanting record touched by a bold style that is entirely St. Vincent’s own.

The album bursts open with “Now, Now,” a track of hard-earned grandiosity, and then proceeds with “Jesus Saves, I Spend,” arguably the best St. Vincent song yet. Its careful pacing and thrilling instrumentation perfectly introduce the listener to Clark’s unique charm, and the song sets a high bar for the rest of the album.

Fortunately, though, the remainder of “Marry Me” delivers the goods. “The Apocalypse Song,” which has Clark accusing a lover of feeling “afraid of what everyone is made of,” and the jazzy “What Me Worry,” which equates love to a “blood match to see who endures lash after lash, with panache,” come damn close to alt-pop perfection. Only the grating “Your Lips Are Red” disappoints, and even then the sweeping, glorious string entrance at the song’s three-minute mark nearly atones for its jarring, fragmentary beginnings.

But enough with specific track references. “Marry Me” is an album, not a collection of unrelated tunes, and should (like the best of records) be enjoyed from start to finish. Here, Clark makes that a worthwhile task, infusing her debut with a cohesion and fullness that’s lacking in too many of today’s releases.

Lyrically, there’s a lot happening in “Marry Me,” a depth stemming from Clark’s brave willingness to tackle tough topics such as romantic idealism, war-torn culture and the search for higher truths. For example, take note of the high frequency of lyrics with religious implications. In a span of less than 10 minutes from the album’s first half, Clark claims to be “sculpting menageries of saints,” begs the stage “to save [her] saving grace,” and asks, on the coy title track, to “do what Mary and Joseph did, without the kid.” It’s truly a funny moment. One of many on “Marry Me” that forces the beholder to observe Clark not only as a prodigious instrumentalist, but also as a clever poet.

Of course, St. Vincent isn’t for everyone, and even future fans may be turned off by the oddball leanings of this debut. I must admit, too, that all the talk of amulets and hummingbirds can at times call to mind inferior female acts such as the ridiculous Tori Amos.

But as a whole, St. Vincent’s “Marry Me” is exciting and praiseworthy. It’s another strong addition to the growing canon of effective albums by promising indie females, a long list of recent records from the likes of Leslie Feist and Joanna Newsom that, at long last, seems to be garnering the attention these ladies demand.

St. Vincent, at the rate established by “Marry Me,” may someday lead this pack. She’s gone solo in high style, and it’s a wonder what took her so long.

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