St. Vincent is as dulcent as she is haunting in her beautifully spooky, almost cinematic album Actor.
There’s something a little creepy about Actor, the second album by St. Vincent, née Annie Clark. And I mean that in a really good way. Clark, a multi-instrumentalist (and onetime guitarist for the Polyphonic Spree), has taken her sweeping, dramatic pop arrangements and fragile vocals to a new and spooky level. A macabre undercurrent runs through many of these songs (one is called “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood”), and Clark’s layered, chorus-like vocals, are positively haunting. It’s not a particularly dark record; songs like “The Strangers” and “Actor Out of Work” are downright jaunty, with pretty strings juxtaposing up-tempo synth and guitar riffs. Clark manages to evoke the ambience of vintage films here, too. The end of “Black Rainbow,” in particular, sounds as if it could have played in an old-timey horror movie. The effect is a little disarming, yet the whole of Actor is utterly cohesive, and—dare I say it?—damn near perfect.