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St Vincent: Masseduction review – abrasive, nuanced pop

(Loma Vista/Caroline International)

Mechanical beats and abrasive synths underpinned by producer Jack Antonoff’s feedback-pocked soundbed-of-nails: Annie Clark’s sixth album as St Vincent is not immediately inviting. But it is fascinating, sometimes grimly so, with Clark relating scenes from a relationship with a drugged-up Young Lover. But the frank confessions – of transgressive desire, pathological anxiety and romantic rejection – that pepper Masseduction transcend gossipy intrigue. (Inevitably, people will assume some of the material is inspired by her breakup with ex-girlfriend Cara Delevingne.) Sonically, the record gradually unfurls into something similarly captivating though, as Clark ditches the guitar rock for pop that is rich, nuanced and constantly surprising. Single songs journey across genres – Pills, for example, begins resembling a bass-heavy remix of a nursery rhyme and ends up a big ballad with a Kamasi Washington sax section – while bizarrely amusing ingredients are continually added to the pot, from parodically funky synth lines to shrill vocal gymnastics that would have Mariah Carey cowering on her chaise lounge.

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