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St Vincent leads you to sweet temptation

St Vincent St Vincent (Caroline)

WHEN in doubt, get funky. The unwritten law of rock'n'roll has served acts well for decades. From David Bowie to Daft Punk, the magical rhythmic combinations patented by James Brown, Bootsy Collins and George Clinton, have displayed an enduring ability to turn worthy endeavour into eternal reward.

Perhaps, the crucial discovery Annie Clark made during her Love This Giant collaboration with David Byrne was that people like to dance.

ASSURED

Ms Clark is no slouch. She spent formative time on the circuit with The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens before embarking on a solo career as St Vincent with her Marry Me album in 2007.

The new 11-track set is her fifth album. It's also her best. Assured, sophisticated and daring, it's likely to establish her with an audience far removed from her indie-darling roots.

If Rattlesnake, on which she recalls disrobing in the desert only to have her meditations interrupted by a snake, doesn't grab you immediately, then her opening gambit on Birth In Reverse surely will.

A Franz Ferdinand-style turbo-wig-out is introduced with the casual scene-setting observation, "Oh what an ordinary day. Take out the garbage. Masturbate. . ."

SMOKY

Cleverly appropriating the film noir femme fatale vocal ennui of Lana Del Rey, St Vincent turns Prince Johnny into a smoky tale of ambiguous sexuality. "Don't mistake my affection for another spit-and-penny-style redemption . . ."

The three years she spent at America's hippest college of music, Berklee in Boston, weren't wasted. Like Prince, Clark can turn musical arrangements on a sixpence, layering songs with unexpected hooks that are a sonic delight.

With the mini-Moog, Clark has found her metier. But as Severed Crossed Fingers veers from nu-soul to vintage Bowie, it seems change is her primary motivation.

So this impressive album may well be just a stop on the road to something spectacular.

4 STARS


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