24.) St. Vincent - Actor (2009)
I know the exact moment I fell in love with St. Vincent's Actor. Toward the end of the record's third track "The Neighbors" Annie Clark (St. Vincent her-damn-self) sings the line "tomorrow's some kind of stranger who I'm not supposed to see". It's an unassuming moment, but it's her voice right then that breaks my heart in the best way possible. It's so fragile but it's also tense. It's quite beautiful.
Actor has a slew of these moments, these tiny perfect pieces that slowly reveal themselves over time. Actor finds Clark confident following a pretty sturdy debut record. What I love about Annie Clark's records is the balls on them. There are moments when tracks devolve into (calculated) chaos, yet she holds it altogether with that voice and a knack for arrangement.
Of the four record released in 2009 that I've dubbed the holy quadrinity, (that'd be Merriweather, Veckatimest, Bitte Orca and Actor) I find Actor to be the most resilient, focused and ultimately the one I go back to most often. I think this puts me in the minority, but whatever it's not the first time. That's not to take anything away from those other records - they all appear on this list - but there's something so thrilling to me about Actor. I feel like more than any record released in '09, Actor continually surprises me.
I love that Clark can write a song like "Actor Out of Work" - an absolute single if ever there was one - while still managing to put together something as weirdly off-kilter (and sometimes downright spooky) as "The Bed". I love that those songs can exist on one record and you don't bat an eye. I love that she can title a song "Laughing With a Mouth Of Blood" and have a line like "I can't see the future, but I know it's got big plans for me" in said song. I love that Actor never goes where it's supposed to. I love that Annie Clark is one of the most forward thinking artists working today and I can't wait to hear everything she does from here on out.
Posted by Pat Driscoll