Music / St. Vincent
The Patron Saint of Guitar Shreds and Lyrical Dissonance

"It's the place where poetry goes to die. That's me."
Annie Clark, on her stage name.

St. Vincent is the stage name of multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Annie was part of The Polyphonic Spree (a choral symphonic rock band) and part of Sufjan Stevens' touring band before going solo with the name St. Vincent, which she claims to be either a reference to Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center, where the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died in 1953, or her grandmother's middle name.

As of 2017, she has released six albums:
  • Marry Me (2007)
  • Actor (2009)
  • Strange Mercy (2011)
  • Love This Giant (2012), a collaboration with David Byrne.
  • St. Vincent (2014)
  • Masseduction (2017)

St. Vincent also opened shows to diverse bands like Television, Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, Grizzly Bear, and Andrew Bird. She and Bon Iver also composed the song Roslyn, part of the New Moon soundtrack- as one of the examples of critically-acclaimed musicians associated with the Twilight movies.

Annie Clark's music contains heavy guitar riffs (her signature instrument) together with somehow melodic singing and melodies, and angry lyrics.

In 2013, Annie was awarded the Smithsonian's American Ingenuity Award in the Performing Arts.

Relevant tropes related to her or her music are:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms : "Birth In Reverse" has a very impactful first line.
    What an ordinary day
    Take out the garbage, masturbate
  • Adorkable : Just watch any videos of her playing at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. She seems genuinely surprised that people love her so.
  • Adult Fear: The subject of many of the songs on Strange Mercy, particularly the title track.
  • Anti-Love Song: "Now, Now", "Marry Me" and "The Strangers" are particularly blatant examples, although there are many.
  • Become a Real Boy: The prayer of "Prince Johnny", in a Shout-Out to Pinocchio.
  • Big Applesauce: Played with. Her 2017 single, "New York" isn't so much about romanticizing arriving to New York (as many other songs do), but instead, is a love ballad regarding her departure from NY.
  • Cruel Mercy : The central theme behind "Strange Mercy", both the song and the record.
  • Darker and Edgier: the dual-singles "Krokodil" and the Swans-esque "Grot", which compared to the rest of her work are outright brutal & menacing as well as having an extreme sense of mood-whiplash, especially with "Grot". Alas, nothing similar appeared on the more restrained St Vincent.
    • Really each album got progressively darker, moderately on the cerebral Actor and more intensely on the moody Strange Mercy, though St Vincent seemed to smooth over some of her harsher edges for a more cohesive feel.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • "Surgeon"
      Best finest surgeon
      Come cut me open
    • "The Apocalypse Song":
      All your praying moments amount to just one breath
      Please keep your victory
      But give me little deathnote 
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Kept up white hair for the entirety of her self titled album cycle, even though it was obviously damaging her hair to do so. As of 2017 she's back to either dark brown or black.
  • Epic Rocking : Interestingly subverted, St. Vincent songs are always economical while still being able to showcase her crazy awesome guitar skills. It's during live performances where you can REALLY see her cut loose as she regularly extends her guitar solos on tour.
  • Face on the Cover : The albums Actor and Marry Me simply have Annie Clark on the cover in her signature clear wide eyed gaze.
  • Fun with Palindromes: Before she was St. Vincent and was just a young student of the Berklee College of Music, she released an EP titled Ratsliveonnoevilstar.
  • Intercourse with You: "Surgeon", depending upon one's interpretation
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Black Rainbow" is a rather calm and melodic song (even though it contains some really depressing lyrics) that ends with some really heavy guitar distortion.
    • A slight inversion with the lush coda to the otherwise exceptionally tense and sinister "Your Lips Are Red".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Oh so much. "Now, Now", "Black Rainbow", "Laughing With a Mouth of Blood", "Cheerleader", "The Bed"... The list could go on and on.
  • Lyric Swap: In some live versions of "Strange Mercy", the lyric: "If I ever find the dirty policeman who roughed you up," is altered into a harsher "fucked you up".
    • In some live versions, the lyric in "Prince Johnny", "And bragged of when and where and who you're gonna bed next", gets switched to "...and who you're gonna fuck next."
  • Moustache de Plume
  • Murder Ballad: Possibly "Your Lips Are Red".
  • Nervous Wreck : Exemplified when she was younger. She's had anxiety attacks since she was around 8 or 9. Fortunately, they've gotten better since and she has them less often. This anxiety can still be found in many of her songs though.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: With references to "horsehair whips", safe words ("who will hear/hear your word?"), and masochism ("heal my hurt"), "Chloe In the Afternoon" can definitely be interpreted as this.
    • "Give Me Your Loves" isn't directly about this, but the subtext is there.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Honestly, her skin's so fair it's not fair. She went platinum blonde for St. Vincent and its ensuing tour.
  • Raised Catholic: The reason why religious imagery is so prevalent throughout many of her songs...even though she doesn't really identify as being particularly religious anymore.
  • Selfbacking Vocalist: Being a one woman band, she usually does this.
  • Selftitled Album: It took her four albums to get there, but she got there and unlike other albums, there's a definite reason for the choice, indicating her growth and self-realization.
    St. Vincent: “I was reading Miles Davis’ autobiography and in it he talks about how the hardest thing for any musician to do is to sound like yourself. And I thought, ‘You know what? I sound like myself on this record.'
  • The Something Song: "The Apocalypse Song".
  • She's Got Legs: You better believe it.
  • Shout-Out: The lines "best finest surgeon, come cut me open", from the song "Surgeon", were originally written by Marilyn Monroe on her diary.
  • Stalker With a Crush: implied with "Dilletante".
  • Unreliable Narrator: The speaker of "Champagne Year" openly admits that she makes a "living telling people what they want to hear" before declaring that it's going to be a "champagne year".