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The Albums of 2009: Actor by St. Vincent

October 10, 2009

ActorIs it too early to award President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize? Maybe. Is it too early to start a list of our favorite albums of the year? Hell NO! There have been so many good albums this year we’ve got to share them.

St. Vincent’s second album, Actor, has captured my imagination and walked it down the streets of a magical yet mundanely dysfunctional suburban neighborhood. St. Vincent is the moniker of songstress Annie Clark, who has toured with the Sufjan Stevens band and The Polyphonic Spree. Both influences can be heard on this album. With the storytelling genius and whimsical personality of Sufjan and the bombastic arrangements of The Polyphonic Spree, this album doesn’t disappoint. Where St. Vincent differs from Sufjan and Polyphonic Spree is in creating characters with a certain sophistication that only an elegant female voice can do. While she presents her characters through a perfectly calm and poised voice, the lyrics and underlying tone tell the story of characters who are struggling with their dull lives. They look for problems in the most mundane occurrences. “Oh, we’ve stayed much too late ’til they’re cleaning the ashtrays” she elongates her words, as she complains about staying too late at “The Party.”

Although she sings about ordinary events, the presentation is anything but ordinary. Saxophones, clarinets and violins propel her soft, graceful voice to cathartic heights. Clashing, jagged guitars create a unique juxtaposition paired with the elegance of St. Vincent’s vocals on songs like “Actor Out Of Work,” “The Strangers” and “Marrow.”

This album is magical and a must for any fans of Sufjan Stevens or any other baroque pop.

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