The self-titled album is a curious beast.
Most often it seems a cop-out when no other title fits a record because it lacks unification. But then there are self-titled works like St. Vincent’s.
This is a record where the artist goes on a journey of self-definition and shares what she finds. Titling it after the artist herself, then, unifies it in a way no other title could. This is what makes “St. Vincent” so compelling.
Annie Clark, the woman behind the pseudonym, opens the record with a story of being confronted by a rattlesnake naked in the desert. It alerts her that she isn’t “the only one in the only world” — but she might desperately want to be.
With this comes two of the most eloquent, coherent indictments of America’s dangerously obsessive relationship with technology, the Internet and social media. “Huey Newton” and “Digital Witness” expose how these provide space for us to say and do anything we want without consequence, where we can hide behind anonymity or identities not our own, how we have a compulsion to share everything — and how truly grotesque it all is.
The songs are juxtaposed with “Prince Johnny,” a song about how people often need each other’s help in the real world free of judgment.
Clark’s whole self, both the parts that desire isolation and those that recognize the importance of relationships, is present here. She fully embraces the power of self-identity inherent in self-titled albums. The question remains whether this is Clark’s identity or that of a persona — St. Vincent’s. But that mystery makes her the enigma she is.