I’m in love with Annie Clark.
I picked up “Marry Me” on a whim, solely motivated by the album’s cover, hoping intently that the girl who represented the record would one day ask me her namesake. Annie Clark, sometimes known as St. Vincent, is standing in front of a grey wash, wearing a grey shirt. The contrast of these earth tones to her ghostly complexion is only matched by the subtle rose color of her lips. You don’t have to say it, I know I sound completely psychotic, but when pining over St. Vincent, that’s completely appropriate.
I was hooked. The dirty guitar, the angelic voice, the lyrics that made almost no sense and at the same time made all the sense in the world, St. Vincent’s music was perfect. At least for me. Her sophomore and junior efforts were even better with “Strange Mercies” being one of my favorite albums of all time.
It makes sense that I’d be excited for “Love this Giant,” a collaborative record between the Talking Head’s David Bryne and, as you’d guess, St. Vincent. Now, a few things to start. First, I’m not musical, I have no idea how to write, play, or even appreciate most songs. I’ve also, despite constant suggestions to the contrary, never gotten in to any post-punk. That said, I’ve never really listened to the Talking Heads or any of David Byrne’s solo stuff. I came to “Love this Giant” as a fan, but only in half.
The first thing I noticed, without reading the linear notes, was how uncollaborative this collaborative record was. David Byrne would lead on one song, St. Vincent on the next. Each song sounded like a solo effort, wether or not both artist were in play.
The sound is consistant, though, and it’s nice. It’s what I always imagined David Byrne would sound like, this post-punk, melancholy, almost islander jam. I’ll be honest, I liked it. Specifically the track I Should Watch TV lead by Byrne. The opening repetitive upward slant of the lyrics annoyed me, but eventually everything slips in to a more robust composition that perfectly suit the lyrics and, in retrospect, validate that early felt annoyance.
Now, it’s understandable that a singer like Byrne would overshadow the younger St. Vincent. Most of the record is, arguably, Byrne heavy. Even the songs lead by Clark are composed with an obvious influence from the post-punk star. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it’s something I had to get used to. There are certain things I love about St. Vincent, some signifiers in her form that let you know who your listening to. Unhinged guitars, psychotic synths, controlled shrieks, and haunting lyrics all stew together to make something that’s as audibly appealing as it is erotic.
I felt like those elements were missing from “Love this Giant.” The songs I enjoy the most, songs like Optimist, are those that are most true to St. Vincent’s form. I understand that I came at this record with a bias, that I wanted the follow up to “Strange Mercies” instead of something new. While I’ve gotten over that, while I’ve really started to enjoy this album, I still feel like St. Vincent is present but not performing.
You should buy this album because it’s important. It’s connecting two moments in music, and I think that means something. I came to “Love this Giant” as a fan of St. Vincent, and I’ve left it as a fan of David Byrne. If anything, it accomplishes something great by showing the fan of one artist the better parts of another.