Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m ELATED that school’s over. Junior year online was awful, good riddance. I’m eagerly anticipating chucking all my math homework into the recycling.
And here I am with one of these album reviews that I only do once in a blue moon!
Ever since elementary school, St. Vincent has been a personal music hero of mine. From falling in love from tracks off of Actor, Strange Mercy and the self-titled St. Vincent, her music was a sanctuary for me during a time when, more than ever, I felt like an outsider. Her music shaped me, and seeing a confident queer woman quickly becoming the 21st century’s answer to David Bowie (and having her own line of signature guitars!!) was nothing short of empowering.
I lost a little faith in her after how much MASSEDUCTION disappointed me – the music was well-played, for sure, but the direction she went in just didn’t feel natural for her.
But I’m excited to say that I’ve completely forgiven her for MASSEDUCTION. I didn’t think I ever could, but Daddy’s Home is some of her best work to date, drawing inspiration from the early 70’s as she shifts into a darker, Young Americans-esque persona.
So let’s begin, shall we?
(NOTE: I’ll probably leave out reviews for “Humming (Interludes 1-3)” just because they’re only about 30 seconds long each)
ST. VINCENT – DADDY’S HOME (album review)
TRACK 1: “Pay Your Way in Pain” – 10/10
The first track of the album and the first single released, this song was almost singlehandedly responsible for my regaining faith in St. Vincent. From the opening notes of the piano to Clark hitting the high notes, repeating “I wanna be loved,” this song is perfection, pure and simple. 100% a highlight of the album, but there’s never a dull moment with this one.
TRACK 2: “Down And Out Downtown” – 8/10
GAAAAH. This is just one of those songs where the music makes you feel like all soft and warm and melt-y, but in the best way possible. Clark’s voice truly soars with this one, and the tempo seems perfect for driving with the windows down. The drums are incredible too! What a perfect beat.
TRACK 3: “Daddy’s Home” – 9.5/10
Where can you run
When the outlaw’s inside you?– St. Vincent, “Daddy’s Home”
VERY NEARLY FLAWLESS. What’s not to love about this song? Some of Clark’s best lyrics, in my opinion, and the most 70’s vibes concentrated into a song since…y’know, a song that’s actually from the 70’s. I’m almost convinced that she’s a time traveller. And I’m not normally very enthusiastic about saxophones, but the ones in this one SOUND SO COOL?? WHAT THE HECK
TRACK 4: “Live In The Dream” – 10/10
Next to “Pay Your Way in Pain,” this is, hands down, my favorite song on the album. It has a very Pink Floyd sensibility about it, like the music of “Us and Them” and the lyrics of “Comfortably Numb” got together, which, as you can probably guess, is appropriately depressing.
It’s hard to listen to, but somehow, I can’t seem to stop listening to it. This feels like what “Young Lover” could have been on MASSEDUCTION – a dark tragedy of near-death and overdoses, drifting in and out of consciousness. It’s harrowing and haunting, but god, it’s beautiful.
TRACK 5: “The Melting of the Sun” – 7/10
Out of the three singles that were released before the whole album, this was my least favorite, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t adore it. (Definitely the best music video of the bunch, though.) It feels a little slower, but it’s no less catchy and immersive, speaking to a lifetime of comparing oneself to others.
TRACK 7: “The Laughing Man” – 7/10 (shhh didn’t skip a track there was just a humming interlude in between)
[quietly] ohhhh ok so these are the lyrics on the sleeves of my hoodie
Next to “Daddy’s Home,” “The Laughing Man” dives headfirst into the 70’s aesthetic, and hits the mark perfectly. Warm, sultry and slow, it feels like slipping in and out of a dream. I can’t put my finger on why I don’t like it quite as much as the others, but it’s lovely nonetheless.
TRACK 8: “Down” – 8/10
Now this was a welcome reward for finishing my AP World exam…
My second favorite of the pre-released singles! Rhythmic and catchy, this is almost as cinematic and raw as “Pay Your Way In Pain.” No doubt that I’ll be playing this one on repeat quite a lot. AND THE GUITAR SOLOS! THE CLASSIC ANNIE CLARK GUITAR SOLO!
TRACK 10: “Somebody Like Me” – 9/10 (shh no worries there was another humming interlude)
Does it make you an angel
Or some kind of freak
To believe enough
In somebody like me?– St. Vincent, “Somebody Like Me”
For some reason, the combination of the drums and the sample of laughing children at about 0:08 always sticks with me…
Even though the 70’s influence is clear, this feels like it could’ve fit just as well on Actor, Strange Mercy or even something as early as Marry Me. Delving further into haunting self doubt, Clark’s ethereal voice, combined with dreamlike instrumentation, backing vocals, and a steady drumbeat, this song just makes me feel so strangely good inside. I feel myself smiling as I’m listening right now…
TRACK 11: “My Baby Wants A Baby” – 9/10
But I wanna play guitar all day
Make all my meals in microwaves
Only dress up if I get paid
How can it be wrong?– St. Vincent, “My Baby Wants A Baby”
This has to be one of her most personal songs in recent years; as the song progresses, we not only see her grapple with not wanting children, tenuous relationships, and moving away from self-reliance, but with being remembered only as “a woman in music.” It’s a classic tragedy, the injustice that is having “no legacy/Won’t have no streets named after me…they’ll just look at me and say/’Where’s your baby?'” There’s not a single lyric that doesn’t stand out in this one. LOVE IT.
TRACK 12: “…At The Holiday Party” – 6.5/10
(Did anyone else think that the title was a continuation of “My Baby Wants A Baby” just because of the ellipse at first? Like “My Baby Wants A Baby…At The Holiday Party?” No? Just me?)
Kind of like “The Laughing Man,” I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t like this one at much, but it just doesn’t feel quite as potent as most of the others. I like the backing vocals and the steady beat, though.
TRACK 13: “Candy Darling” – 9/10
The perfect closing track to the album. Too short, but I guess that could be said about all of the songs on this album…
It feels like a bittersweet goodbye, a final descent into the dreamlike realm that the album consistently slipped in and out of. The musical equivalent of a hug goodbye and a kiss on the forehead.
(shh there’s one more interlude but that’s ok)
I added up my ratings for the 11 tracks I reviewed, and it averaged out to about an 8.5. Which…huh? That can’t be right…
Nah. This isn’t an official review, right? And nobody here cares about how I round things, right? So I’ll just bump it up to a solid 9. It’s only 2021, but I think I already have my favorite album of the decade. All at once haunting, cinematic, and warm, it’s everything that I missed from St. Vincent: fantastic guitar solos, a soaring voice, and dark and clever lyricism. I just wanna give this album a hug.
In conclusion, FIGHT ME, PITCHFORK.
Since there’s a whole album packed in here, consider this entire post today’s song.
That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!