St. Vincent Actor

St. Vincent Actor
As the mastermind behind St. Vincent, Annie Clark has followed up the idiosyncratic genius of her debut, Marry Me, with the honed craft of Actor. Commencing with the slow bubble of "The Strangers," careful listening is advised, if not required, to digest the subtle complexities of the warped key and guitar lines guiding Clark's hypnotic croon of "make the black hole blacker," which precedes the bombastic, fist-pumping riff assault of the song's climax. It pays to pay attention but the radical arrangements and pristine melodies make it an easy task. Each song is a memorable journey populated by vividly painted characters with softly cutting insights, musically as likely to reference the acid-trip carnival groove of the Flaming Lips or Sufjan Stevens' flirtations with classical and jazz as the orchestral cyber funk Prince should be making. Actor's songs embody many characters, almost all of them beautifully precise and unique players in Clark's masterfully staged second act as St. Vincent. (4AD)