Sometimes even the tried and true old favorites of my iPod offer little reprieve from the endless drizzle that is a Northwesterner’s winter. That’s where I found myself about a month ago, stuck in a rut romantically, artistically and academically. I was tired of the same old songs again and again and of hearing new music that I couldn’t even condemn as poorly made: just a rehash of what’s already been done in the indie scene for the past two decades. By no means am I criticizing the music of today; on the contrary, I think 2012 has the potential to be one of the best years for new music since the turn of the millennium. But there’s a time and place for every song, and I was feeling like the time for change was long overdue.
That brings me to one unusually heavy day of incessant rain and mood. I was sullen with the news that one of my closest friends was just hospitalized for a surgery that would keep him out of school for the rest of the year, but at the same time filled with a strange energy that only the end of finals week could bring.
I went for a walk in the rain.
The truth is, I’ve known about St. Vincent for some time now- even somewhat enjoyed last year’s popular single “Cruel.” But for me, their music was always too strange a pill to swallow. That is, until whatever peculiar notion of fate brought me to listen to the song “Paris is Burning” on that dark and stormy afternoon.
I was seized by the enchanting melody of Annie Clark’s vocals and the dirty, driving distortion that characterizes so much of her guitar playing. As I stared, mesmerized at the cover of their debut “Marry Me,” it was suddenly clear in the hauntingly beautiful image of Clark’s own blank gaze that St. Vincent was injecting an element of heartfelt vitality into music that was exactly what I’d been looking for for so long. I listened to all of their music that I could get my hands on and spent the next several days treading the thin line between pop genius and utter insanity that is St. Vincent’s catalogue. The raw, spellbinding intensity of their sound possesses a distinctiveness that I believe will one day cement their place as a staple of the indie music scene.
Annie Clark originally joined the band The Polyphonic Spree after dropping out of the Berklee College of Music. She found some commercial success in this venture, and also as a member of Sufjan Steven’s touring band, but gave up these projects to start her own group St. Vincent in 2006. Three albums later, they are the most successful they’ve ever been while continuing to stay true to fans.
St. Vincent is currently on tour promoting their most recent album “Strange Mercy.” Outlandishly hypnotic melodies and impeccable lyricism make St. Vincent an act I will surely be following closely from now on at what is hopefully just the beginning of a long and fruitful career.