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St. Vincent's New Songs Sure Are Sad

Annie Clark has gained cred as a fashion icon as well as a musician, and her new video for "New York" backs that up.EXPAND
Annie Clark has gained cred as a fashion icon as well as a musician, and her new video for "New York" backs that up.
"New York" video still/director Alex Da Carte
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After taking a few years off from recording, Dallas native Annie Clark announced last week that she will release her fifth solo album as St. Vincent, Masseduction, on Oct. 13. It will be her second pop-rock album for label Loma Vista, also home to icons Iggy Pop and Marilyn Manson, and it's already one of 2017's most buzzed-about releases.

Clark has been pretty forthright in recent interviews, calling the new material "so first-person and sad."

Since her last album, Clark's exposure has increased dramatically, partly because of tabloid interest in her romantic relationships with celebrities such as supermodel Cara Delevigne and actress Kristen Stewart. Now, the Lake Highlands High School graduate and former Polyphonic Spree guitarist is a jet-setting celebrity, collaborating with luminaries such as David Byrne and making forays into the worlds of filmmaking and high fashion.

The first two tracks from Masseduction — released in conjunction with the album announcement — are sonically different, but both draw upon themes of emptiness, loss and regret, suggesting that Clark is not always satisfied with the new stature she has attained. Nevertheless, they are powerhouse tracks that bode well for the rest of the album.

Below, we dig into "New York" and "Los Ageless."

"New York"
The song begins with a collage of city sounds — whistles, sirens, car horns — then abruptly starts on a downcast note, with Clark singing of loss and emptiness. It's an indelibly sad song, one that made us wistful for days gone by and parties that cannot be relived.

For Clark, however, the song's message seems to be directed not just at a city disappeared ("Too few of our old crew left on Astor"), but also at someone specific. She hammers this point home in the chorus with sly wit ("You're the only motherfucker in the city who can handle/stand/forgive me") and stern meaning, altering the verb with the passage of each verse before intoning a more measured statement: "I have lost a hero. I have lost a friend, but for you darling, I'd do it all again."

This song shows Clark in a state of vulnerability, wrapped up a whirlwind of emotion and attempting to process it all in just under three minutes. We spent the third and fourth listens aimlessly scrolling through old pictures on our iPhone.

"Los Ageless"
The opening of this track places us back in familiar territory. It bears St. Vincent's hallmark loops and beats — think "Digital Witness" on steroids. Like "New York," this song seems to be speaking of loss and, perhaps, regret, but this time Clark is out to prove she can hang on and move forward.

In an obvious play on words, "Los Ageless" stands in as a substitute for its Southern Californian namesake. Clark references dead-eyed drinkers in bars, mothers selling out their young and the endless snarl of traffic. She rises above it all, though.

"I'm a monster and you're my sacred cow, but I can keep running," Clark wails in a deranged voice that demands repeat listens. Things wind down with an extended spoken-word outro that has an air of resignation. "I tried and I'm done," seems to be the message Clark is looking to convey to a departed lover, persona or locale.

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