No stranger to orchestral noise-pop (she was a member of dynamic singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ band in the first half of the last decade), St. Vincent once again glues together a rumpled collage of spacey beats, scratchy guitar and lifted vocals on her self-titled fourth album.
Unsurprisingly, the semi-spastic pop singer even trumps her topsy-turvy 2012 collaboration with David Byrne (Talking Heads) by tunneling into new realms of instrumental pandemonium. Remaining true to her own penchant for blowing up smartly dressed pop grooves into chunky bits of rock and roll, on this record, St. Vincent whips together a batter of experimentation and catchy choruses. She’s a banshee of decadence, daringly spry and stoically tranquilizing.
Though they try their damnedest, milky rock songs on the new album like “Rattlesnake” and—especially—“Birth in Reverse” never quite flee the confines of a sing-a-long ditty. Instead, they descend into salty-sweet, fist-pumping dance tunes with vivacious attitude, precariously resting on the brink of chaos.
Warm, trance-like synth rumbles merrily along on “Rattlesnake,” getting snagged on spires of guitar like an unlucky sweater and dogged rock and roll on “Birth in Reverse” strains to yield to St. Vincent’s sweet innocent vocals. The rest of the album follows suit, with amplitudes of power pop and uneven tangents percolating inside addictive vibes.
Putting her attention grabbing sound to good use, lyrically St. Vincent delineates discernible subjects like societal slavery to technology on the album’s lead single “Digital Witness” as well as more personal, age-old struggles with the track “Regret.” Perhaps most interestingly, she also sings about an Ambien-induced dream she had where political activist and Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton appeared in her hotel room.
Though the boldness of St. Vincent’s fourth album may not carry the same punch as previous releases now that we’re all used to her approach, it’s still her most adventurous; from start to finish, a cavalcade of progressive pop.