Pop Life

Album of the Week: St. Vincent's Actor

Not to sound like an American conditioned on the stuff of the patriarchy, but thank God St. Vincent is a woman; to say Annie Clark is a saint among female musicians would be way too obvious. It's a shame that critics feel forced to throw in the caveat 'female' when writing about female musicians (especially the good ones), but for her part, St. Vincent is doing her best to wrench that mindset from us all and slap into us the realization that musical excellence transcends gender.

So here's what I'll do: I won't say that St. Vincent is female. There. Done. No longer sexist. St. Vincent is generational; she's My Bloody Valentine sung as a lullaby, and she's making everyone forget that what musicians are supposed to do is copy other musicians. Actor is one of the best albums of the year; 11 songs of gun-toting rock n' roll with a twist of citrus shaped like college-boy cutoffs.

The songs fit together not at all, but don't you dare call them singles (sorry, iTunes), because St. Vincent doesn't write singles. She writes operas. Rock ones. At the same time, every song on Actor could be taken alone as a possible context for an entire record, and that's what makes St. Vincent different. St. Vincent writes 3.5-minute novels.

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Brandon K. Hernsberger