St. Vincent - Marry Me
Marry Me (Beggar's Banquet, 2007)
Download: St. Vincent - "Now, Now"
Download: St. Vincent - "Jesus Saves, I Spend"
Download: St. Vincent - "The Apocalypse Song"
Download: St. Vincent - "Your Lips Are Red"
In short: Remember how Ian said that if you didn't own the Voxtrot record yet, then you and he could not be friends? That's how I feel about Marry Me.
A bit longer: Bar none, this is one of the best debut records of the year and an album that has hopscotched its way unto my top ten of 2007. And hopscotch does really seem like the appropriate verb to use when describing the opening phrases of "Now, Now". Guitar harmonics skip like stones on a pond as 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark (i.e., St. Vincent) and a backing choir of children takes to task an argumentative boyfriend (or a small child) by singing the refrain "You don't mean that/say you're sorry." But the song's real lyrical kicker is that the end of the refrain is "I'll make you sorry."
What's great about this record is the way it makes its childish whimsy sound threatening, and that refrain in "Now, Now" (along with the music, which has a sweet, ascending major scale melody along with bittersweet, jazzy, minor-seventh chords) perfectly encapsulates that contrast. "Jesus Saves, I Spend" is another great track with this dichotomy, as the song is about St. Vincent's supposed lack of grace. The music, however, behind the self-doubt, is a bubbly waltz supported by machine-gun tight rhythm section.
Elsewhere, we get the Tori Amos-esque "Paris is Burning," the melancholy piano instrumental "We Put A Piano In The Ground" and horns reminiscent of Broken Social Scene on "Marry Me."
Sweet merciful crap, this is an amazing album. One slight flaw Marry Me has is that it stacks all of its more piano based, introspective tracks at the end of the album, a move which robs the record of its momentum. Otherwise, this is a fantastic record from start to finish. Marry Me is a musical proposal worth accepting.