Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 5/4/09.
One of the prominent musicians in the indie music scene, Annie Clark is an artist who has been acclaimed for her performance on guitar, bass, and keyboards as she was a touring musician for Sufjan Stevens for his 2006 tour while in 2007, she joined the Polyphonic Spree. During her tour with Stevens, she released a three-song EP under her St. Vincent moniker that featured a cover of Nico's These Days written by Jackson Browne. After working on the third Polyphonic Spree album, Clark went solo under her St. Vincent moniker for her full-length debut album entitled Marry Me.
Produced by Annie Clark, Brian Teasley, and Daniel Farris, Marry Me is an album of lush, indie-pop music that exemplifies Clark's unique musical talents and quirky lyrics filled with various themes. Featuring appearances from Polyphonic Spree bassist Mark Pirro and legendary David Bowie pianist Mike Garson. The album is filled with unique arrangements and Clark's angelic, somber vocals. The result is one of 2007's insatiable debut albums.
The album opener Now, Now arrives with melodic-tingles and smooth, warbling programmed beats with Clark's soothing, evocative vocals. With melodic guitar swirls and Clark's eccentric lyrics, the track features a sweeping orchestral arrangement with layers of backing vocals and arpeggio-flourishing acoustic guitar melodies. Jesus Saves, I Spend arrives with speedy drum fills, bum-bum-bum backing vocals, and Clark's calm vocals with lyrics about Jesus in a comical manner. With a smooth, driving guitar and layers of background noises including a swooning, melodic keyboard in the bridge, it's a song that is filled sprawling, layered arrangements with Clark performing most of the instruments. Your Lips Are Red is a sinister cut with pounding bass and warbling drums with Clark's eerie, soothing vocals. With spurting guitars and creepy lyrics, it's a song that has a great structure that includes a driving section of ominous violins from the song's co-writer Daniel Hart as Mike Garson plays some striking, flourishing piano accompaniments.
The album's title track starts off as a somber piano-driven ballad with a soft, thumping bass drum track and Clark's angelic vocals sung with melancholic lyrics about marriage. With a bouncy accompaniment from the drums, the song includes accompanying claps, soothing violins, and a xylophone performance that tingles throughout the track. Paris Is Burning is strange yet rich track led by Clark's arpeggio-flourishing guitars, distorted beats, and Clark's eerie vocals for a rhythmic song filled with quirky, imagery-laden lyrics. With its smooth, thumping rhythms and arrangements, it's a song that is filled with lots of layers and instrumentation in its performance. All My Stars Aligned is a rich, torch-like piano ballad led by Mike Garson's flourishing piano performance with a smooth rhythm and washy acoustic guitars. Clark's angelic vocals carry the song with her evocative range and dream-like lyrics as she's accompanied by a backing chorus, wondrous string arrangements, and Garson's superb piano performance.
Apocalypse Song is a weird, comical song about the apocalypse with buzzing sounds, bouncy beats, and washy guitars through Clark's calm, evocative vocals. With Clark's high-pitch, wailing vocals filled with sprawling arrangements of sweeping string arrangement and backing vocals along with rhythmic claps and guitar spurts. The Mike Garson-penned instrumental We Put A Pearl In The Ground is an ambient piece with Mike Garson's soothing piano melodies that flourish through with Clark accompanying him on a soft keyboard track. Landmines arrives with a smooth, bouncy rhythm that acts as ballad with dark lyrics sung by Clark in a dreamy vocal presentation. With instruments ranging from lap steel guitar flourishes, shimmering harps, and swooning noises, it's a song that features a lot of tricks through its production.
Human Racing is a bouncy, island-flavored track with washy, spurting guitar tracks and Clark's swooning vocals filled with dreamy lyrics about love. With finger-snap accompaniments in the background, it's the simple presentation and a melodic trumpet solo that make this song stand out. The album closer What Me Worry is another jazz-inspired track with jazz-spurting guitar riffs, a smooth rhythm, and Clark's evocative vocals filled with humorous, melancholic lyrics. With a flute accompaniment, it's Clark's vocals that are the highlight of the song. Appearing as a bonus track from the Japanese version of the album is a cover of the Jackson Browne-penned, Nico song These Days. With its rich, melodic-swirling guitar arpeggios and Clark's ethereal, calm vocals, it's a faithful yet entrancing cover of the melancholic ballad as it's performed with just simply Clark and her guitar.
Marry Me is a fun, eccentric, yet entrancing debut record from Annie Clark in her St. Vincent moniker. While some of the layers of arrangements, quirky lyrics, and broad production might not be for everyone. The record is still something rich and dream-like through Clark's vocals and her performance on the guitar and various other instruments with the exception of Mike Garson's sprawling piano work. In the end, for a debut record by an artist that creates rich textures in melodies and arrangements that is carried by superb vocals. Marry Me is the record to get from St. Vincent.
(C) thevoid99 2011