Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

2. St. Vincent
St. Vincent
(Loma Vista)

Even though this is St. Vincent's fourth full-length album, Annie Clark is right to have reserved the eminent self-titled record until now. This isn't to say that her previous releases haven't been notable summations of Clark's cerebral sense of melody, structure and guitar prowess, but this record feels distinctly like an almighty statement, as indicated by her powerful seat in a throne on the cover.

St. Vincent poses Clark as a melodic deity who effortlessly conjures up new alien sounds from one of music's most utilized instruments, the guitar. On "Digital Witness" and opener "Rattlesnake," it's near impossible to differentiate guitars from synths from horns; they're all malleable sounds that Clark distorts to her own advantage in order to embrace and demonstrate her unique tastes for electro-funk, jolting pop hooks and slick synth balladry.

Clark is no stranger to appearing on her own album covers, but whereas previous shots possessed vulnerability and blankness, St. Vincent's cover displays sheer determination and power. That vulnerability is still present on moving reflections like "I Prefer Your Love," but there is no doubt in our minds that Clark is taking every emotion, thought and sound and controlling it and wielding them with righteous sovereignty. (Melody Lau)