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. At the 2015 Grammy Awards, her Self-Titled Album took home the award for Best Alternative Music Album.

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.
  • Bi the Way: Was in a relationship with Cara Delevingne.
  • 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 
  • Downer Ending: Both of her videos for the singles off Strange Mercy have this:
    • "Cruel": Annie is kidnapped by a motherless family, forced to be a housewife and routinely abused, until she's buried alive. The objective feel of the video and Annie's stoic demeanor make all this Black Comedy.
    • "Cheerleader": Annie is a larger-than-life, hyper-realistic sculpture à la Ron Mueck who comes to life. She tries to escape the gallery where she's kept, but ends up collapsing under her own weight.
    • Masseduction, otherwise (mostly) consisting of upbeat power-pop, ends with "Smoking Section", which features Annie casually considering suicide.
      "And sometimes I go, to the edge of my roof/And I think I'll jump, just to punish you."
  • 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. St. Vincent has a full-body portrait of the artist sitting on a throne.
    • Averted with Strange Mercy, which has her mouth agape seen through a white latex screen, and Masseduction which shows her assistant's rear.
  • 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", "Pills"... 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."
  • Mood Whiplash: The first single from Masseduction, "New York", is a gentle piano ballad. The successive one, "Los Ageless", is a New Wave and dance rock-inspired number which features plenty of her signature guitar riffs.
  • 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.
    • "Bring Me Your Loves" isn't directly about this, but the subtext is there.
  • Precision F-Strike: In "New York":
    And if I call you from First Avenue
    Where you're the only motherfucker in the city who can handle me.
  • 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.
  • Self-Titled 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.
    • The promotion for Masseduction has gone out of its way to show them. At one point in the video for "Los Ageless" she's seen singing bent forward in a sort of yoga pose, with the camera positioned through her legs spread wide.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stalker with a Crush: implied with "Dilletante".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "New York".
  • Surreal Music Video: All of them. Special mention goes "Digital Witness", where she looks like a mental patient witnessing pseudo-military actions in a desolate, futuristic city.
  • 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".