Average User Score: 8.6Feb 28, 2014"St. Vincent" is a marked departure for St. Vincent: While "Strange Mercy" is more emotionally complex and much more of a strange, twisted (though above all else, deeply beautiful) "art rock" album, Annie Clark's self-titled work is both a decidedly poppier and more sonically adventurous affair; still, it's no less of a masterpiece than its predecessor. Ms. Clark continues her streak of vital indie rock albums while propelling her significance to stratospheric levels. She may well rule us all from that throne of hers.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.4Dec 24, 2013If someone had told you in 2011 that the next Beyoncé release would be the most "independent" album of 2013, would you ever have believed them? I readily admit, such a comment would have elicited little more than a scoff from myself. Yet, a down-to-the-buzzer contender for album of the year, BEYONCE seems to rely more on DIY aesthetic than any other major release seen this year. Singles? Nope. Months-long promotional gimmicks? No press at all (lookin' at you, Yeezus/Reflektor/Shaking the Habitual). Touring? BEFORE the release of the album? Hell, yes ("I don't trust these record labels I'm touring", she sings on "Haunted"). BEYONCE is a vital assertion of individuality and artistic integrity from an ARTIST (and by this point, she has inexorably earned that title) whose royal status intrinsically invites stagnation.
A decidedly experimental album, unconventionalities of pop music abound: extended intros, outros, spoken word interludes, movements, and any other indulgences present are earned over and over again. And despite a seemingly sudden awareness of her own illustrious status, the album is also her most emotionally frank, putting herself in a particularly vulnerable position. It's altogether a risk of gargantuan proportions and it pays off beautifully, somehow endearing Mrs. Carter-Knowles to her audience more than she already is.
Though you probably won't find many of these songs with much radio time, the album displays an even broader range of styles and themes that we've come to expect from a typical Beyoncé album. Within BEYONCE, you'll find: explorations of her marriage (with Jay Z, who quests on "Drunk in Love"), both ups ("Blow", "Partition") and downs ("Jealous"), criticism of body image attitudes ("Pretty Hurts"), statements of supremacy ("***Flawless") and self-awareness ("No Angel), heartfelt farewells to lost loved ones ("Heaven"), odes to motherhood ("Blue"), and, of course, one big group-hug sing-along anthem that you swear could solve every major world problem ("XO"). And despite its grandiosity, it culminates with a general air of restraint (hear how spare that production is) and control (check how exclusive that guest list of producers and guest vocals is) with few exceptions, a feat no one other than the Queen Bey herself could carry out. Bow down, indeed.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.8Oct 16, 2013I don't think ambient music is typically labelled "destructive" and "forceful," but those adjectives tend to get thrown around a lot when speaking of Ravedeath, 1972-- and Hecker's work in general. That should be a tip-off that this is not music that fits the popular connotation surrounding the word "ambient": it's not music you can really relax to, it doesn't soothe (at least not in a conventional way), and it is in no way "background" music. It is harrowing, emotionally devastating, and excruciatingly gorgeous sound that demands your full attention to be understood. Ranging from crushing tidal waves of noise to delicate minimalist hymns, Hecker's 6th album offers as a broad a spectrum of human emotion as you're ever likely to hear. A classic in left-field music, to be certain.… Expand