St Vincent - Actor

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'actor' was co-produced by clark and john congleton (modest mouse, polyphonic spree) and features eleven new songs, all written and arranged by clark. 'actor' takes the ambitious compositional and sonic underpinnings of clark's debut as a starting point and never looks back. the arrangements are more masterful, the songwriting grander, the performances ever more confident and inspired. clark developed an idiosyncratic writing process for 'actor', immersing herself in some of her favourite films - 'badlands', 'pierrot le fou', 'the wizard of oz', 'stardust memories', 'sleeping beauty' - and beginning each song as a secret film score, then slowly giving it independence as its structure and lyrics came fully into focus. the resulting eleven tracks are as cinematic as pop songs can be, but the movie is a private one, revealing its storyline in hushed, cunning couplets and cascades of scathing guitar. here is a record to listen to with your eyes closed. melodies are transposed and inverted. the fantasy of disney is juxtaposed with the sweep of morricone, david mamet's unsettling dramatic form and the alienation of philip roth. igor stravinsky scores roger corman's horror flicks. 'the strangers' starts off as a deceptively dulcet elegy for a lost love, then suddenly capsizes under a flood of distortion. 'actor out of work' is a devastating sonic kiss-off, complete with slyly poisonous lyrics and steamrolling guitars. the strings and woodwinds at the opening of 'marrow' might be escorting dorothy to the emerald city, or straight into the flying monkeys' clutches. the crackerjack band, including supporting turns by mckenzie smith and paul alexander of midlake, has the crunch of a tank and the grace of a chamber ensemble.