Posted by: Nick Walters | March 28, 2014

St Vincent: St Vincent – An Apology

St Vincent glares

Your worthless opinions do not bother me in the slightest. In. The. Slightest. You abject, writhing worm.

Sorry, St Vincent, it’s not you, it’s me. I have given this every chance but it has failed to do anything for me except make me think a lot about music and why I like it. So that’s a good thing, I suppose. On the first few listens I found it annoying and irritating, and subsequent spins have not changed this view. This has given me pause for thought as St Vincent is obviously extremely talented and respected, and I can only conclude that it is down to personal taste. Which is odd, because St Vincent’s music is right up my street. I love electronic music composed by and sung by women as my music collection bears out (one of my current fave bands is Marsheaux).  Or rather, more correctly, I like female singer/songwriters, who have a bit of originality and intelligence about them – like that other artist with initials SV who released an album this year.  The comparison with Suzanne Vega is an apt one as this album, like Vega’s breakthrough 99 degrees F, has a bedrock of deep rumbling basslines pulsing through it and is informed by the electronic music of the day, and both artists integrate a broad musical pallete into their soundscapes. (End of pretentious muso journo shite). So this album should be ideal for me – but it leaves me cold. Individual tracks (e.g. Digital Witness) are great but as an album, it doesn’t grab me. When it is on, it’s just there, and I don’t remember a thing about it when it’s over. This initially happened with the ‘other’ SV album but that has grown and bloomed within me. In fact, this happens with almost all music; albums are almost never instant. They take time to reveal themselves. Of course, pop music should grab you and tunes should be likable straight away, or there is nothing to hook you in – but, once hooked, there must be more beneath the surface. For older acts, knowledge and experience of their back catalogue is enough. For example, the last Goldfrapp album, which I bought on the strength of a promise of return to form. It left no impression at all on first listen apart from a vague ‘hmm nice’ but over time it grew in stature until I considered it their best album. For newer acts, a single song, or an image, or word of mouth must grab the attention. This happened with Chvrches – their name intrigued me, I read an interview online somewhere, previewed The Mother We Share, saw the album artwork and made an educated guess that this was, in a very big way, up my street. So I bought it, and found that indeed it was. With St Vincent, I got a PM from my sister whose taste is pretty sound (except for her teenage Five Star phase – we all have these – with me it was Nik Kershaw). She urged me to listen to the album , so I previewed Digital Witness and thought ‘wow’ and so picked up the CD in a record shop (look it up, kids) and well, I’ve already told you the desultory results. It just does not work for me. A shame. So, once more, sorry, St V, it’s not you, it’s me. You can’t win em all.



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