Welcome to Hook & Reel, a series showcasing music that’s guaranteed to catch your ear.
Rough yet refined, intimate yet universal, accessible yet alienating, St. Vincent‘s new album MASSEDUCTION is a smorgasbord of half-hooks, heart-wrenching refrains and hard-to-forget songwriting, all hovering just above the teeming, grungy, gorgeous production of pop’s go-to producer Jack Antonoff. In the record, Annie Clark reads the world her diary with a curled upper lip, as if saying “I might be screwed up, but you’re just as far under as I am, and we’re all the reason everything is going to hell.”
MASSEDUCTION’s subtlest and strongest moments come from the songs “Dancing With a Ghost” and “Slow Disco,” back-to-back tracks that seep into each other. Listen to them in album order, and then go back and listen to them in opposite order. In “Dancing With A Ghost,” swelling symphonies gently bloom, wordlessly building up to the loss detailed in “Slow Disco.” In “Slow Disco,” hazy 80s-era synths purr sadly in the background and violins sway elegantly around Clark, as she prepares to let go of her lifestyle and her lover, seemingly tranquil yet still unable to hide the grief in her voice.
When you listen to “Dancing With A Ghost” after “Slow Disco,” the former transforms into a completely different record. Instead of creating the foundation for “Slow Disco” to shine, “Dancing With A Ghost” becomes the climax to the story arc created in “Slow Disco.” It’s here Clark takes the final few steps in her slow dance and then draws back, watching her past fade into the distance as she moves on to create a new existence.