St. Vincent: Marry Me

There's a point where too much happiness turns into madness, and St. Vincent's multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark knows this place well from her days spent backing The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens. Clark's debut, Marry Me, seduces with one hand and stabs with the other. The title track—with its torch-song piano (provided by David Bowie's pianist, Mike Garson) and Clark's rich mezzo-soprano urging "I'll be so good to you"—borders on cloying until the line "You won't realize I'm gone" slips out the back door. Clark is as adept with these sudden reveals as she is with arranging the many strings, choirs, and virtuosic guitar lines that make up Marry Me, from the childish melody of the Kate Bush-esque opener "Now Now" to the skuzzy, distorted throb of "Your Lips Are Red." The album—like its thrillingly schizoid centerpiece, "Paris Is Burning"—is simultaneously playful and foreboding, leaving listeners perpetually on edge, waiting for that earsplitting grin to turn maniacal.

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