MASSEDUCTION is a New Take on Love, Drugs, and Feeling Like an Alien.
With her breathy vocals, eerie melodies, and halo-esque hair, St. Vincent can’t escape being called “otherworldly.” She capitalizes on her particular vibe in the opening song of new album MASSEDUCTION, released (fittingly and spookily enough) on Friday the 13th through Loma Vista Recordings. The first lyric in opening track “Hang On Me”—“I know you’re probably sleepin’”—offers a personal invitation to the audience to experience the rest of the album alongside the artist, extending the following refrain “We’re not meant for this world” to the listeners. MASSEDUCTION sets its tone and theme early, emphasizing that St. Vincent knows her audience as well as she knows herself.
Here, St. Vincent gives herself space to tonally expand from her last, self-titled album and the EPs that preceded it. Electronically-based “Los Ageless” and titular “Masseduction” pair with slower and smoother ballads like “Happy Birthday Johnny” (which is a neat follow-up to 2014 release “Prince Johnny.”) Her songs are no longer all ethereal vocals backed by repetitive electric guitar melodies; though she doesn’t abandon her roots completely, she has clearly grown as an artist in the three years between releases. MASSEDUCTION feels like her perfect next step, deeply experimental from the mainstream and just experimental enough in regards to her previous work.
There are occasional missteps, such as the instrumental-only, forty-second “Dancing With a Ghost” and its companion song “Slow Disco.” But overall, MASSEDUCTION feels like a lovingly crafted tribute from St. Vincent to her friends, lovers, and self. Ex-girlfriend Cara Delevingne notably makes an appearance in “Pills,” singing some of the chorus, and the outside knowledge of their breakup makes the lyrics even more uncomfortable and ironic. Her electric-guitar balladry is at times strangely sad, pulling off the trick of making her audience (okay, me) feel a melancholy connection to an album she describes as being about “sex and drugs and sadness.”
But don’t be fooled; MASSEDUCTION is not an album that makes any final decisions. St. Vincent makes it clear that there’s still room for change in its otherworldly world. As she sings in the “Smoking Section” outro: “It’s not the end/It’s not the end/It’s not the end/It’s not the end.”