The best two albums of the year are easily both the fifth & self-titled releases from the most iconic female ‘pop’ artists, Beyonce and St. Vincent (fifth if you count Annie Clark’s Byrne collab). Both are on the periphery of Pop, creating music that incorporates other genres, and inadvertently stretching Pop itself beyond where it was comfortable going, or any of us expected it to go. Thank god there are still innovative and intelligent women putting music out, given the disparate and disappointing releases from our other divas in 2013. Self-titling an album is not enough (don’t expect Shakira’s tenth album to slay), but there’s something so self affirming and ‘step outside of the present to recognize something iconic as it happens’ about the career high these albums have so meticulously become.
Both Beyoncé and St. Vincent are incredible because it feels like this has been the natural trajectory- it’s so very clear, the path which brought both of these divas to these absolute highs, and the projects they’ve released are the result of their own painstaking journeys as creatives. It’s the culmination of a canon (not to say they won’t surpass themselves again), and for a millenial who has adored every release both of these inspiring women have given, these albums are definitive. They are the kind of musical creations I will share with my children, confidently stating “this was the best shit around back then”.
What’s particularly refreshing and incredible about St. Vincent, in both her music and her persona, is her ability to be modern and present (a self-aware yet not self deprecating millenial) and both classic and old school (this little rant about twitter is a beautiful example of just that). Her craft is so clearly not an act of narcissism, as it is for so many others, but instead a calculated yet natural expulsion of creativity from her loins. It’s so obvious when she’s on stage- almost disconnected. Like an alien from planet Rock takes over her body as she kills an electric guitar and makes sweet love to it in front of you, eyes blank yet energy electric. Like a living alien rock doll, Annie Clark is eccentric yet relatable, inadvertently edgy, and insurmountably gifted and unique.
I wanted to list what my favorite songs were on the album that hadn’t been previously released, but then I realized I was listing every single one of them. It’s mind-blowingly good. Her dynamic and engaging vocal performance throughout the album is only rivaled by her insanely good guitar playing and innovative production. It’s new and yet everything about it is so Annie Clark, like she’s been building to this forever (much like Beyoncé’s last release). Don’t waste another second. Get on with listening to the album, and you should probably make it to one of her shows.