17. St. Vincent, MASSEDUCTION (Loma Vista)
How long was the promotional cycle for St. Vincent’s breakthrough self-titled album? I saw her perform in June 2014, and then nearly the exact same setlist in August 2015. So you can’t blame Annie Clark for burning out after such a demanding schedule in the wake of commercial success. Typical of any great artist, though, she was able to stay grounded enough to not only follow up a brilliant record with a new one that continues to reinvent the rules of pop, rock, and electronic music. The only way MASSEDUCTION is similar to St. Vincent is that it is, once again, completely uncategorizable. It took her a few tries, but Clark has now perfected a distinct style that is hers alone. She is a guitar shredder extraordinaire, and is even go as fracas to say she’s the most groundbreaking guitarist of the last 20 years. The texture her musicianship brings to the music is sublime, whether it’s cleverly filtered through effects pedals or simply letting loose a soulful solo. However, the relentless hooks she comes up with are what win you over. Whether it’s the goofy yet sneakily clever “Pills”, the sad “Happy Birthday, Johnny”, the wickedly satirical “Los Ageless”, or the beautiful “Slow Disco”, Clark crafts gorgeous melodies covering so many styles that in less capable hands would be a colossal, uneven mess. Clark is a visionary, and the way she ties so many sounds together is a testament to her talent. She’s in the prime of her career right now, and is it ever fun to witness unfold.