The Best Albums of 2014, #15

band0115. St. Vincent, St. Vincent (Seven Four) 

I’ve been following Annie Clark’s work as St. Vincent for years with increasing fascination. The woman is such a clever songwriter, and I’d even go as far to call her the most innovative rock guitarist of the last decade, but as strong as her music has been, getting better and better with each new album, I always sensed she wasn’t quite there yet. And I even had my doubts when her new single “Birth in Reverse” came out in late 2013. But no, much to my admiration Clark came out with not only the most creative album of her career, but also the most accessible. So delightfully weird, yet at the same time possessing a pop sensibility that she’d only sporadically dabbled in before. St. Vincent’s sound has always been partially about creating an artificial sound, but this album is so interesting in the way it creates the most rigid sound to date, but it’s done playfully so, and at times very poignantly. The acerbic “Digital Witness” is her cleverest song to date, not to mention the catchiest too a sly satire of the instagram culture, and “Rattlesnake” and the strangely addictive “Birth in Reverse” are almost as strong. On the instrumental side, which should always be mentioned when discussing a St. Vincent record, “Bring Me Your Loves” feature some of her trademark wicked guitar work. On the other side, though, that poignant side, is where Clark truly shines, as “Prince Johnny” and “I Prefer Your Love” find her opening up more emotionally, atop gorgeous trip hop backdrops created by her and producer John Congleton. Clark has never sounded this confident, this in command of her art, and her fourth solo album finally establishes her as a major, singular talent in rock and pop music alike.