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St. Vincent: Actor

In 2007, Dallas native Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, released Marry Me — a cute, promising debut that highlighted her sometimes dark, sometimes deep, optimistic voice and a knack for some slight guitar shredding. Actor is something altogether different — a meditation on orchestrated, grandiose-sounding pop that doesn't sound overstuffed or pretentious. It's actually quite accessible and modern, and there's one subtle reason to that. Clark fuses her woodwinds and strings with musings on "black rainbows" and "laughing with a mouth of blood," but it's the rhythmic sections that line Actor that puts this batch of songs into a more playful context. "Marrow" is the pinnacle of this sound; as she blurts out "h-e-l-p, help me" a groovy horn section augments the electronica-backed beats. A few slower, tender moments peek through — the Fantasia fantasy-scape of "The Bed" and the jazzy feel of "The Party" put Clark in a more cocktail-hour setting. The real oddball is lead single "Actor Out of Work" — a fast, orchestral rock song that sounds confident, as Clark compares a dude (presumably) to an actor out of work, an extra in the back of a scene. Actor is just the opposite, though: completely at the forefront, a serene record from start to finish.

 
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