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Digital overload is a recurring theme in St Vincent. “I want all of your mind, give me all of it,” sings Annie Clark (aka St Vincent), a siren luring us to lose ourselves in mindless tweeting and Facebook updating. In the past the gifted Texan multi-instrumentalist might have illustrated her point with a wonderful overload of harmonies (30 different musical instruments went into the making of her debut, 2007’s Marry Me, mostly played by Clark).
But she reins in the maximalism on her fifth album. Thickly distorted funk gives “Rattlesnake”’s tale of interrupted self-communion in the desert a rudely comic energy, Clark shrieking “I’m not the only one in the only world” as she exits chased by a rattlesnake. “Huey Newton” finds her “entombed in the shrine of ones and zeros”, a digital victim submitting to her fate over a wickedly catchy hook and viscerally grumbling bass.
Meanwhile emotions break through on “I Prefer Your Love”, a secular hymn to motherhood, and the lustfully blaring “Bring Me Your Loves”. There’s a brief dip towards the end with “Psychopath” but otherwise St Vincent is the perfect mix of surface and depth, a disruptive portrait of life in the technological age. “A smile,” Clark sings impishly, “is more than showing teeth.”