Sometimes we learn more from what disappoints us than from what excites us. For instance, there is a pop music phenomenon, recently lauded by the Smithsonian Magazine (and awarded, by them, an America Ingenuity recognition, in Performance Arts), who calls herself St. Vincent and fetchingly distributes a melange of lush melody and abrasive, often cornball jingles.    Purporting to have gone through a [David] “Bowie phase”—a point conveyed in a cosmetic ad on You Tube—the girl of the day, Annie Clark, brings into view in fact very little of Bowie’s expressionist/ Dadaist incisive dramatic wit. But she still manages, for all that, to squeeze herself into some semblance of furthering her hero’s strong concern about a ferocious booby trap at the heart of rock and roll’s easy charms.

As a teenage rock novice in suburban Dallas, she managed to both revile and revere that zone; and in this she had begun to deal with the equivocal center of avantgarde discovery.


The name, St. Vincent, apparently derives from the name of the hospital where the poet, Dylan Thomas, died in 1953. “It’s the place where poetry comes to die. That’s me.”

Perhaps it’s unfair to expect Bowie-level acting bravura from a sincere and reflective musical effort to come to grips with those hard questions festering at the heart of rock and roll’s purest energies. Here we’ll close (for now) by way of her joining forces with David Byrne (a limited American Bowie) to give us something to think about. The thrust here is appliance-ad once-over; but in being so terrible it emits (like a cyclotron) singularities that head elsewhere.
Let’s add the ace up her sleeve. I think what’s really new and promising about Annie Clark’s venture is her awareness that, as an attractive young, very twenty-first century woman, she can (in contradistinction to the resort, only too familiar, by a legion of cute girls, to burlesque) leverage her striking sensual poise against evocation of the melt-down of mainstream history.

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