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Music / St. Vincent

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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 Erin Clark (born September 28, 1982). 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.

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, while Masseduction bagged the awards for Best Recording Package and Best Rock Song (for the title track) four years later, in 2019.

She is queer, and previously dated Cara Delevingne.


  • Ratsliveonnoevilstar EP (2003, as Annie Clark)
  • Paris Is Burning EP (2006)
  • Marry Me (2007)
  • Actor (2009)
  • Strange Mercy (2011)
    • 4AD Session (2012, live EP)
  • Love This Giant (2012, with David Byrne)
    • Brass Tactics EP (2013)
  • St. Vincent (2014)
  • Masseduction (2017)
    • MassEducation (2018, acoustic album)
    • Nina Kraviz Presents Masseduction Rewired (2019, remix album)
  • Daddy's Home (2021)
  • All Born Screaming (2024)

Relevant tropes related to her or her music are:

  • 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.
  • Book Ends: Strange Mercy and Daddy's Home draw inspiration from her father's imprisonment and release respectively.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The video for "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.
    • The video for "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."
  • 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, while Daddy's Home has a sepia-tinted photo of her sitting in an armchair.
  • 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.
  • Incredibly Long Note: She belts out a 17 second long one at the end of "Pay Your Way In Pain".
  • Intercourse with You: "Surgeon", depending upon one's interpretation; "Chloe in the Afternoon" and "Savior" are far less ambiguous, however.
  • 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.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Oh so much. "Now, Now", "Black Rainbow", "Laughing With a Mouth of Blood", "Cheerleader", "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."
  • Lyrics/Video Mismatch: "Slow Disco" is about the singer dealing with the realisation that their actual life isn't what they should be living. The "Fast" remix music video takes place at a steamy gay leather rave.
  • Moustache de Plume
  • 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.
    • "Savior" is very explicit in this regard.
    • And "Bring All Your Loves" has the very BDSM flavored lyrics of "I thought you were like a dog/But you made a pet of me" and "I took you off your leash".
  • 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.
    • Also used throughout the chorus for "Pills".
  • Rearrange the Song: The violin and strings based "Slow Disco" has both a somber piano version called "Slow Slow Disco", and an upbeat club mix called "Fast Slow Disco".
  • Recurring Character: Marry Me introduces a character called Johnny who later reappears in St. Vincent, Masseduction and Daddy's Home.
  • Retreaux: Daddy's Home is inspired by the music scene in New York in the first half of the 70s. As a result, a lot of 70s-style music and video effects are in use in "Pay Your Way In Pain".
  • Quirky Curls: Her dominant hairstyle until and including St. Vincent.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Being a one woman band, she usually does this. Subverted with Daddy's Home for which she recruited proper backing vocalists.
  • 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".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stalker with a Crush: Implied with "Dilettante".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "New York".
  • Surreal Music Video: In "Digital Witness", she looks like a mental patient witnessing pseudo-military actions in a desolate, futuristic city.
  • Textless Album Cover: Actor (some pressings), St. Vincent and Masseduction.
  • 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".