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St. Vincent's latest album Daddy's Home: potential for Album Of the Year

by Alex Usher. Published Fri 21 May 2021 11:30

Daddy’s Home is the seventh outing from American musician, singer-songwriter, and producer Annie Erin Clark, or as we know her St. Vincent. With help from big hitter co-producer Jack Antonoff, Clark strays from the colour and seductive-pop style of 2017’s MASSEDUCATION, and in turn creates of her best work to date in this shining return to form.

The album picks up from where we last saw St. Vincent, bursting open with the theatrical Pay Your Way In Pain, which could easily be mistaken as a track from her 2017 endeavour MASSEDUCATION. The track feels like something the late Prince would’ve pulled together, with its seductive vocal delivery and slick guitar riffing.

Following track Down And Out Downtown cracks the tempo down a notch however, implementing a soulful, almost surreal sound, exploring the strange romance of city life. It’s the sort of track that plays in the back of your mind on the way home after a long night out; the kind where you collide with the working world and their morning rush on your way back home. The bass in this track stands out to me in particular, it carries the same atmosphere as Paolo Nutini’s Looking For Something; smooth, slick and hazy. The sitar makes its first appearance on this cut also, adding a flare of psychedelia to the song - something that becomes a regular theme throughout the record.

Annie’s maturity as a songwriter is evident throughout the record, with title track Daddy’s Home feeling like a pitstop guide of her back catalogue. The song feels like something taken from her 2009 record Actor meeting 2017’s MASSEDUCATION, with its stripped back roots being developed with an additional dollop of psychedelia and funk. The sombre The Laughing Man has one of the best lines on the entire project, “If life’s a joke, then I’m dyin’ laughin’”, and it is yet another example of St. Vincent’s experience with her song writing. Or alternatively, one of my personal favourites on the album is the angelic Somebody Like Me, where Annie sings about love being comparable to painting yourself white and throwing yourself off a building in the belief that you’ll become an angel.

The track's exploration of the romanticism involved with the delusion of love and the absolute blind faith it requires highlights Annie’s mammoth capability as a songwriter and shows that she is truly one of the best to currently do it. “Paint yourself white/Clip on the wings/Climb high to the top of a building/Does it make you an angel/Or some kind of freak/To believe enough/In somebody like me?”

The album carries a strong 70’s influence, mixing elements of psychedelic rock, soul and soft rock to create something that feels personal in both its lyrics and guitar work. The most psychedelic track on the record is the ethereal Live In The Dream, which sounds similar to Pink Floyd’s Breathe (In The Air) in that respect, as it delivers a slow burning misty atmosphere with a shrieking guitar solo.

St. Vincent isn’t afraid to wear her influences on her sleeve, with the following track The Melting Of The Sun referencing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon within it’s opening lines. This is not to distract from the true meaning of the track, as Annie Clark pays homage to the women who came before her that were met with hostility from society, such as Nina Simone, Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell. “Brave Tori told her story/Police said they couldn't catch the man/And proud Nina got subpoenaed/Singing, "Mississippi, good goddamn."” The soul influence harks back to the genre’s roots, making for a fitting and cathartic listen.

Annie doesn’t let us stay down for too long though, with the poppy revenge anthem Down bringing the mood right back up. The drums in this track go crazy, adding some serious spice in mix, but the true highlight is St. Vincent’s riffing on the sitar and the wordplay with the line “Get off of my tit” which always puts a grin on my face. Down is the start of an incredible run of tracks on the back end of the record, being followed by Someone Like Me and My Baby Wants A Baby.

St. Vincent battles the idea of having a child in My Baby Wants A Baby, questioning her capability of raising another human being that doesn’t inherit all of her worst qualities. “I got your eyes and your mistakes.” The lyrics throughout the track show her struggle to give up her current life as she combats societies expectation for women to have children. The instrumentation on the track expresses her stress and frustration, with the end of the track sounding exhausted and disheartened. “But I wanna play guitar all day/Make all my meals in microwaves/Only dress up if I get paid/How can it be wrong, wrong?”

The soulful soft rock influence creeps back in during …At The Holiday Party, where Clark sings about the hidden sadness in someone’s eyes at a party. “Pills and JUULs and speed/Your little purse a pharmacy/And hide behind these things/So no one sees you not getting’ what you need.” The tune is gorgeous and reminds me of You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones in many ways. Album closer (if we exclude the Humming interlude) Candy Darling feels like something Father John Misty would have created back in 2015, as it swoons along, almost like a lullaby, and is a rather calming end to a sensational record.

Daddy’s Home is easily one of the standout albums from 2021, packed full of incredible vocal deliveries and harmonies, shrieking guitar solos and a deep understanding of psychedelia and soul. I was surprised at how much I loved this record, but after a few listens I wonder why I ever doubted that St. Vincent would not deliver.

4.5 out of 5 stars



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