St. Vincent - All Born Screaming

Regular price $ 31.99

Red Vinyl

Though St. Vincent's 2021 album Daddy's Home was far from a failure -- it won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album -- it could be argued that it was the first time in Annie Clark's career that the concept overshadowed the actual music. That can't be said of All Born Screaming. As she searches for ways to embrace the terrifying, exhilarating chaos of being alive, Clark delivers the immediacy and emotional impact that Daddy's Home seemed to promise. To express life, death, and love in their most elemental forms, she reaches deep into formative sounds that couldn't be further from Daddy's earth-toned '70s homages. However, the shades of Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, and Portishead she incorporates into All Born Screaming have more to do with those artists' willingness to confront raw, even ugly feelings head-on than they do with nostalgia. It's part of Clark's concerted effort to push herself that also includes teaching herself modular synthesis (which shines particularly brightly on "Sweetest Fruit," a shimmering tribute to visionary producer SOPHIE) and handling the production duties entirely on her own. Clark's exciting sound design breathes life into the album's distinct movements, from the flowing opener "Hell Is Near" to the mix of playfulness and awe on the title track that makes the record's culmination a journey in itself. In between, All Born Screaming's pounding heart delivers some of the most visceral moments of St. Vincent's career. An instant classic, "Broken Man"'s seething industrial blues-rock blends playful theatricality with a sense of real danger that radiates from Clark's snarling vocals and volcanic guitars. It's one of a pair of songs that find her and Dave Grohl building on the furious chemistry they shared playing Nirvana's songs at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; the other, "Flea," pierces its suffocating heaviness with a sparkling prog-rock tangent that would be the album's most audacious move if it weren't for the maximalist emptiness of "Big Time Nothing"'s disco-funk strut. Clark packs such a wallop with these songs that it feels like she's sharing something deeply personal with her listeners even if they're not overtly autobiographical, an impression heightened by All Born Screaming's unforgettable imagery. Pompeiian lovers hold each other forever on "Violent Times," where she sets the importance of choosing love above all to swooning sonics worth of a James Bond theme song; on "The Power's Out," a televised assassination kicks off its woozily romantic sketch of a post-pandemic dystopia. In the end, All Born Screaming's carefully plotted emotional arc and tight musicianship only highlight how refreshingly candid it feels. Clark has more than earned the freedom she gives herself to express so many different sides to her music, and it's a thrill to hear her stretch out on these ferocious, heartbroken, and ultimately life-affirming songs.

Hell Is Near    4:14
Reckless    3:55
Broken Man    3:22
Flea    3:49
Big Time Nothing    2:56
Violent Times    3:56
The Power's Out    4:36
Sweetest Fruit    3:57
So Many Planets    3:33
All Born Screaming    6:55