WVAU’s #8 SOTY: New York by St. Vincent

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Kyle Mendelsohn

Photo from Consequence of Sound

With her first album celebrating its ten-year anniversary, queen of abstract electropop tunes St. Vincent has transferred her ability to teeter the line between rocking out and tugging at listeners‰’ heartstrings into her song “New York,‰Û released as a single on June 30. It‰’s no coincidence this hit was dropped during cancer season, because oh, baby, it‰’ll make you cry.

The album cover says it all: a sexed-up cross between a Lynchian love of red and the flashy nature of Warholian pop art. But what do themes of murderous desire and femme fatale tragedy have in common? Like all three of these artists, their work has an undertone of raw emotional turmoil that resonates with those of us in our twenties and thirties. Prompting a myriad of interpretations, from references to Bowie or old relationships, “New York‰” is Annie Clark‰’s ballad of reflection, in which the artist has encapsulated what it feels like to leave a place and the people associated with it. It‰’s a dedication.

Being in your twenties and thirties is often a time of transience, moving from place to place for school, your first job, etc. It‰’s a lot of firsts, a lot of moments that bear emotional weight. The complexities of these emotions are punctuated with the lyric “But for you, darling/I‰’d do it all again.‰” This lyric speaks to the feeling of loving something enough, in a way that is healthy for both parties and, while leaving that behind can feel gut-ripping, being willing to do the whole thing over again for that relationship despite the pain is an indescribable situation that only comes a few times per lifetime. Whether that is a relationship to a place, a person, an icon or an entire group, is up to the listener.

The album as a whole deals with mental health. Through my own interpretation, I think that comes through in the lyrics “Where you‰’re the only motherfucker in the city/Who can handle me.‰” Moving to a big city and finding people who love you, despite baggage, is a really special thing. It not only builds an association between the city and the people, but also with finding those that understand the most authentic version of you.

I had the privilege of seeing her perform live. While that‰’s a different EOTY article, the concert was spectacular. Referred to as the female Bowie of the contemporary moment, St. Vincent can raise an audience‰’s adrenaline with her exuberant guitar solos or make everyone weep with the clear intimacy and emotion brought forth when performing her slower songs, like this one.

This is my first article I‰’ve ever written for WVAU so go easy on me, baby!