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The Reintroduction of St. Vincent: The Good, The Bad, and The Confusion Surrounding Daddy’s Home

If you’re looking for the St. Vincent that you know and love, then look away, because on her latest release, Daddy’s Home, you won’t find the electronic dream-pop frenzy of 2017’s Masseduction, and you won’t find too many resemblances of her previous albums either.

But I guess if you’re a St. Vincent fan you’d already know this. Annie Clark, who performs under the stage name St. Vincent, is an expert at crafting unique albums that are never retreads of past musical glories—she’s always creating something new and inspired each time she gears up for a release. Daddy’s Home is no different.

What you’ll find instead is a mishmash of ’70s inspirations, a raw and personal narrative flowing through it, and of course, Clark’s always-present intelligent lyrics. She wanted to be so entrenched in the ’70s throughout the making of this record that St. Vincent even furnished her studio with equipment and guitars that were used heavily throughout the early part of the ’70s.  

Daddy’s Home, St. Vincent’s sixth studio album, was released May 14 and centers around Clark’s father’s return home from prison. It came as a bit of a surprise that she would get so personal on her album, when part of the artist’s allure is that she’s typically more withdrawn. Was she now ready to open up?

That turned out not to be the case. The press cycle leading up to the album’s release has focused more heavily on Clark herself versus the music she’s releasing after a now-deleted interview the musician attempted to have killed. St. Vincent named her album Daddy’s Home, announced that it was about her dad’s return home from prison and then was stupefied when she was asked questions about the carceral system.

Have you heard of the Streisand Effect? Because Clark and her PR team certainly have to have by now. It’s when someone tries to get something hidden or removed, and their attempts to do so only bring further attention to the subject, named after when Barbra Streisand attempted to get an aerial photograph of her oceanside mansion removed from a public collection of more than 12,000 California coastline photographs. Her picture, which had been downloaded only six times previously, was eventually viewed by more than 400 thousand people. By trying to get her interview killed, St. Vincent presumably brought more attention to it than would have ever occurred naturally. 

A lot of this attention is now overshadowing the music, which is a shame, because while it’s not St. Vincent’s strongest album, it’s definitely worthy of belonging in her outstanding discography and serves as another interesting turn that the daring artist has taken throughout her career.

“Pay Your Way in Pain,” the album’s lead-off song and first single, harkens back to the ’70s, and draws on a variety of genres, most notably funk. It also serves as one of the high points on the album, kicking it off with a whirlwind of excitement and bringing listeners into the work that St. Vincent is creating within the album. The track is a stark departure from St. Vincent’s indie rock inspired previous music, and it’s a welcome change. She masters the song so effectively that listeners might wonder what genre can’t St. Vincent tackle?

Many of the songs also have a slight country-twinge, just visible among the electronic influences and raucous guitar sounds, which makes sense as one of St. Vincent’s most recent projects included writing and playing guitar on The Chick’s 2020 album “Gaslighter.” 

Another high point on the album is “My Baby Wants A Baby,” a standout among the back half of the album in which she horrifyingly imagines herself as a parent — presumably relatable to members of St. Vincent’s millennial audience. It also reflects the album’s greater themes of parenting and responsibility.

“But I wanna play guitar all day, Make all my meals in microwaves, Only dress up if I get paid,” St. Vincent croons on the stunningly relatable track.

The album slows down early on in its second track, “Down and Out Downtown” and lasts through “The Melting of the Sun,” the album’s second single. Altogether, Daddy’s Home perfectly calls back to the genres and styles of the ’70s with its funk, and R&B inspired tracks, but doesn’t deliver the songs as effectively as just putting on a nearly 50-year-old album would.  

While the album is not St. Vincent’s most effective, it’s interesting to see her take yet another turn in her career and while the album is so entrenched in the past, it leaves listeners wondering — what’s coming up next in St. Vincent’s future?

Daddy’s Home is available now, stream it on your preferred platform here.

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