1973 is home.
St Vincent (Annie Clark) seems to switch personas and sound for each new album. That means that whilst she is constantly evolving from era to era, she’s likely to please some and irk others. One thing you can’t say is that she is stagnant or boring. This time around, she dives back to the early 1970s with a mixture of soul, funk rock and acoustic folk. The whole album is a nostalgia trip basking in a sunset glow.
The best moments on the album come when St Vincent fully embraces the union between past and present. ‘Pay Your Way In Pain’ plays with psychedelic soul and modern day synths. It is almost like she is sending up the notion of the genre whilst rocking it because everything is so exaggerated. Elsewhere, soulful blues and funky bass lines and fake sitars chill you out with ‘Down and Out Downtown’. The track is a real grower that’s now a firm favourite. ‘Down’ is the fruitiest track with snazzy Wurlitzer riffs, mellotron haze and big choruses. Think funky tinder vibes mixed with a pointed Starsky and Hutch chase and you’ve got it.
The jewel in the crown and perhaps the most revealing track on the album is the superb ‘The Melting of the Sun’. Here, St Vincent mentions female singer-songwriters such as Joni, Tori and Nina as paving the way for her with their bravery and stories. It is beautifully penned and fascinating piece because the lyrics imply that she wants to do right by them but hasn’t felt like she’s shown her true colours yet. It is as if she feels guilty for bringing these personas to life for each album rather than saying ‘this is me, have at it’.
Whilst most of the album really grooves, the acoustic led dreamy side of the album holds some beautiful moments. The glistening western tinged ‘Somebody Like Me’ is absolutely dreamy. The way the acoustic and electric guitars hazily wax over each other with vinyl synths underneath is exquisite. ‘The Laughing Man’ is a gentle wander through memories of those we’ve lost.
If I had one minor critique of ‘Daddy’s Home’ it is that of the 14 tracks, three are small background ‘in room’ transition pieces that I don’t feel add much to the albums feel. It is as if St Vincent is trying to create moments of hearing the album playing in the next room but I personally didn’t see how it improves the narrative.
That aside, this plunge back to 1973 is largely a big success. This is easily the least hook filled album she has created to date but its all about the mood. In a way, its a bit of a dissection of the 70’s funk rock and soul genres through a 2021 lens of an ugly world. Everything you expect is here but there is a pointed edge to the production that means most of the music doesn’t feel tape warmed. It feels a bit angular, aggressive and full. That might put a few off but I welcome the interesting take on things. One thing we do know though. Whatever she tackles next, it won’t sound like this – so enjoy or politely disagree – she’ll have moved on soon enough.
Recommended track: The Melting of the Sun
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