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Actor

4.4 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 5, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

The follow-up to St. Vincent's (Annie Clark's) first album "Marry Me" (2007) features eleven new songs, all written and arranged by Clark. The arrangements are more masterful, the songwriting grander, the performances ever more confident and inspired. Clark toured extensively in support of "Marry Me" with artists like The National, Death Cab For Cutie, and Arcade Fire, and was named Female Artist Of The Year at the 2008 PLUG Independent Music Awards. Before recording as St. Vincent, she was a member of The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens' touring band, and she performed with Glenn Branca's guitar orchestra.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Strangers
  2. Save Me From What I Want
  3. The Neighbors
  4. Actor Out Of Work
  5. Black Rainbow
  6. Laughing With A Mouth Full Of Blood
  7. Marrow
  8. The Bed
  9. The Party
  10. Just The Same But Brand New
  11. The Sequel


Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 5, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 4ad Records
  • ASIN: B001W63DQ4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,372 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
According to St. Vincent aka Annie Clark, "Actor" is all about losers. Unhappy, lonely people who are struggling to tread water.

Hey, any album that has makes the emoesque line "paint the black hole blacker" work has got to have something special. And Clark's second solo album is a little lot of unhappiness and melancholy wrapped in woobling synth and vintage crackles, eruptions of blurry sound and beautiful vocals. It has a more unified sound than her debut, twisting catchy pop melodies into unpredictable streams of oddball indie music.

"Lover, I don't play to win/For the thrill until I'm spent/Paint the black hole blacker... What do I share?/What do I keep from all the strangers who sleep where I sleep," St Vincent sings wistfully over an angular little accordion-laced melody. About halfway through, it whirls off into echoing space while the synth spirals around her.

It's followed the ethereal, drum-saturated "Save Me From What I Want," fast-paced guitar pop laced with drawling vocals, and whirling fever dreams of slightly warped pop melodies -- they're soaked in woobly organ, cacophonous eruptions of sound, and interludes of dreamlike synth. The album winds down on a mellower note with the last trio of songs: the off-kilter piano pop of the "The Party" (which serves as an awe-inspiring climax), the crystalline fragility of "Just The Same But Brand New," and the wistful horn-saturated drift of "The Sequel."

Not to mention "The Bed," a delicate tangle of piano and twittering flute... until you realize that it's about children who have "gotta teach them all a lesson" ("them" being all-too-human monsters) with their "dear daddy's Smith and Wesson.
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Format: Audio CD
Annie Clark's 2007 debut as St. Vincent is (still), in my opinion, the best debut album from a female solo artist in the last decade. In it, she introduced herself as a charismatic, talented artist with a beautiful voice and an absolute skill for crafting charming pop songs. On Actor, her sophomore release, Clark is content to not retread old grounds entirely while simultaneously expanding on the sound that made her so endearing in the first place. The result is an album that is not near as solid as its predecessor, but portrays Annie Clark as a person who is capable of more than pretty little pop songs.

Actor, first and foremost, is a much heavier, denser album than Marry Me; more Shara Worden than Regina Spektor. Clark's guitar skills are not as apparent on this album, but they have their loud, obtrusive moments. "The Strangers," opens the album on a light, bouncy note as Clark sings "Paint the black hole blacker," over some lovely instrumentation. It's not until the instrumental bridge that we witness the darkness of which she sings - an incredibly distorted electric guitar, bursting through the mix to accelerate the song and, consequently, the album as well. Keep that in mind. It's not the last time it'll pop up on Actor.

The album's biggest flaw is its lack of many catchy hooks. That sounds kind of shallow, but it's something the Marry Me had - that made it so relentlessly listenable - that Actor does not. "Actor Out of Work" and "Marrow" are the most notable exceptions to this comment, the former being the album's first single and most radio-friendly tune. "Marrow," on the other hand, is just an awesome example of Clark's "WTF-ness." One second she's singing softly of some ghoulish synth choirs and the next she's singing "H-E-L-P/Help me!/ Help me!
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Format: Audio CD
When I heard Marry Me in '07, I was blown away. With one album, Annie Clark/St. Vincent became one of my treasured musical goddesses, along with Tori, Fiona and PJ. So you know where my tastes run, if I had to pick my gods, I'd go with Bowie, Radiohead and Prince. I knew this girl was special. I was heartened too, because my artists are getting older, and I was afraid I'd be stuck in an audial time loop, listening to the same outdated classics like my parents. Thirty here I come!

I looked forward to Actor for months. At first listen, I admit, I was a bit letdown. "The Strangers" was great: epic, cryptic, hypnotic, comparable to "Now, Now" from Marry Me. "Actor out of Work" got lodged in my head before the two and a half minutes were up. None of other songs grabbed my attention. After I played the album a few times, "Save me from What I Want," became my new favorite. The lyrics were deceptively deep and aching, like nothing on Marry Me. Then, I think it was "The Party." It didn't take long before I fell in love, again, with Annie/St. Vincent. As good as Marry Me is, Actor is ultimately more addictive, more compelling and more satisfying.

If I have one complaint about Marry Me, it's that the songs leave me somewhat cold. They're clever, fascinating, lovely. But I don't feel a strong connection with the artist because none of it seems particularly genuine. It's ironic that, on "Actor," I empathize with her despair, by far, the prevalent sentiment. Perhaps, Annie Clark is only comfortable exposing her soul while symbolically affecting an actor's part. For example, the bitterness in "Actor out of Work" is more jarring than in the intentionally harsh "Your Lips are Red" off Marry Me.
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