• Record Label: 4AD
  • Release Date: May 5, 2009

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. With engaging songwriting, creative instrumentation and melodically special music, not only is Actor everything we imagined it would be but Clark has redefined the definition of pop music.
  2. Actor is a uniquely potent cocktail of sounds and moods that'll get you hooked, fast.
  3. Mostly, as Actor demonstrates, St. Vincent has found her own voice--and it’s one you wouldn’t want reading your kids any bedtime stories.
  4. Her voice seems small and fragile, but it's her most effective instrument, and it affixes a tight lynchpin to the album's broadly creative themes, leaving it glistening with ghostly elegance.
  5. Everything is that much thicker, more weathered, generously exaggerated and significantly less innocent. It pays increasing attention to composition and classy song structures and yet more to pulling them apart and lassoing passing listeners with the strands.
  6. With that in mind, the album is perfectly titled, as Actor proves St. Vincent as an artist capable of crafting believable, complicated characters with compassion, insight, and exacting skill.
  7. Like an unsettling dream, Actor will stay with you for quite a while, but it isn’t listeners or critics that will be discomfited by the eccentric sophistication here.
  8. Filter
    To put it plainly, Actor is St. Vincent's doe-eyed awakening. [Spring 2009, p.94]
  9. 80
    Her second album is rowdier and less well-behaved, and thus better, although the template is the same: breathy coos and lush strings intermittently blown apart by distorted guitar blasts.
  10. On first listen it feels like the musical equivalent of doodling a massive cock-and-balls on a Rembrandt, but eventually this reveals itself as the first moment of compositional brilliance on an album packed full of them.
  11. Quite eponymously, the album is a grand performance, and one whose stagecraft is the sole work of a brilliant ringmaster in Clark.
  12. 80
    She's always juxtaposed the cruel and the kind, and here, the baroque arrangements are even more complex and her voice even prettier, with both only underlining the dark currents running through her songs.
  13. While Actor’s best moments may not reach the same high points as Marry Me’s, it’s an even more cohesive effort, and one that I haven’t tired of after countless listens.
  14. You won't glean much more about those people and places than you knew going in, but Clark's strange angles and fanciful settings pack a visceral punch.
  15. This is some of Saint Vincent's most complicated music, but its fearless creativity rewards repeated listening, as Clark has few rivals when it comes to seducing ears and challenging minds at the same time.
  16. Between the organic and artificial sounds found in Actor, St. Vincent’s voice melts the two clashing styles into a divinely pleasurable experience.
  17. For all the darkness of Actor's concerns, however, it remains an exceptionally pleasurable album to listen to.
  18. It's the detail and charm listeners have come to expect mixed with these welcome surprises that keep Actor exciting.
  19. Uncut
    A stunningly audacious second album, inspired equally by prime Prince and film soundtracks, and reminiscent of Jane Siberry's prog-pop ambition circa "The Walking." [Jun 2009, p.103]
  20. Here, Clark’s lyrics are less overtly clever than on her debut, and they’re more deeply buried in layers of her spastic instrumentation. Nonetheless, they suggest a subtle, abstract intelligence.
  21. What’s surprising is just how nuanced that performance is, because Actor marks no huge departures her work on Marry Me, but it still manages to constantly surprise, always meshing the earthen with the industrial in strange and compelling ways.
  22. Beneath the plushness of her terrific second album there are drolleries, black humor, a cosmopolitan's jaundiced take on romance.
  23. A few songs could slim down, but the star gets in and out of her dream sequences seamlessly, already thinking of her next line.
  24. Though less immediate than debut "Marry Me," Actor is full of charm, picking its way through disorienting rhythm changes and peculiar progressions.
  25. Under The Radar
    When dissected, there's brilliance to be found in the instrumentation, but it's numbing to listen to the tracks in succession because their most striking quality is ornamentation. [Spring 2009, p.68]
  26. Those with the patience for deft songwriting willl want to wait for her.
  27. Q Magazine
    Occasionally it drifts a little too aimlessly, as if recorded under the dulling influence of Prozac, but when she gets it right, she can be entirely, weirdly riveting. [Jun 2009, p.131]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 106 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 24
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 24
  3. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. May 15, 2012
    The perfect album. I barely discovered this album 2 weeks ago. I previously listened to Strange Mercy, which is good and much different fromThe perfect album. I barely discovered this album 2 weeks ago. I previously listened to Strange Mercy, which is good and much different from this. Actor is by far Annie's best album. She succeeds in every way possible and more! The tracks that really captured my heart in this album were Save Me From What I Want, Black Rainbow, Actor Out Of Work, Marrow, Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood, and two of my now, all time favorite songs ever, The Party, which will take you to places you've never been before, and Just The Same, But Brand New which is incredibly written lyrically and instrumentally. This album gets a PERFECT 10 out of 10 in my book . Full Review »
  2. Yema
    Oct 18, 2009
    I can't believe this doesn't have a higher metacritic rating. The critics who gave it scores as low as 60 are wrong! I can listen I can't believe this doesn't have a higher metacritic rating. The critics who gave it scores as low as 60 are wrong! I can listen to this album the whole way through and it never gets old. Truly a masterpiece and it deserves to be in every Top 10 list this year! Full Review »
  3. Oct 3, 2011
    St. Vincentâ