St. Vincent: A smile is more than showing teeth

She’s an original, creating a songbook out of the kind of compressed studio effects that would force lesser talents to fire the engineer. So she should reconsider someone besides John Congleton, whose work on Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness and Annie Clark’s other albums confirms that pouring his trademark electronic glaze over guitar tracks has outlived its novelty. Moreover, she’s becoming a chanteuse, like on the one that goes “I prefer your love to Jesus” over mellotron. Well, duh. This eponymous record is still plenty striking. “Digital Witness” crosses “Emotional Rescue” with Dear Science-era TV on the Radio; when the music opens in the chorus, especially on the line “Watch me jump right off the London Bridge,” it’s like an LED light in a dark room, Kate Bush taking her shoes off and throwing them in the lake. Otherwise Clark mimics Shirley Manson after Garbage’s context vanished (“Every Tear Disappears”). Still, fucking with her guitar compensates for staid rhythms. Former partner David Byrne didn’t learn it when he went solo.

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