Sunday, May 23, 2021

St Vincent Delves Into The Memory Books In New Album ‘Daddy’s Home’

Known for her eclectic musical style, American singer-songwriter St Vincent has touched down with another diverse and complex album titled ‘Daddy’s Home’. The LP takes on a series of forms, plunging into reminiscence, longing, and a touch of self-deprecation, exploring familial resonance and patriarchal influences in light of her father’s recent release from prison. 

This is the singer’s sixth album release, following the recent success of the previous self-titled album ‘St Vincent’ (2014), which was named ‘Album of The Year’ by The Guardian and NME and won her a Grammy for Best Alternative Album, and the following album ‘Masseduction’ (2017) which also won her a Grammy. 

The jagged marriage of 70s rock and pop synths, that St Vincent is somewhat of an old hand at, find their way into most of the tracks on this album. She wastes no time throwing us straight into the first track ‘Pay Your Way In Pain’, a Prince-esque single that packs a synthy punch; it was released on March 4 this year as part of the album’s pre-release schedule. 

Repeating hard-hitting words such as “pain/shame/pray/loved/forgotten”, over the over-processed, fun, and funky electronic bassline, sets the tone for the rest of the album; a project employed by the artist to purge her darker feelings in an almost playful setting. Following tracks ‘Down And Out Downtown’ and ‘Daddy’s Home’ slow the tempo down a little, both featuring catchy guitar riffs and howling, echoey vocals that sound as though they were recorded in a cathedral. These tracks feel slightly more emotive, and actually speak explicitly about her relationship with her father in a way that the other tracks do not, with ‘Daddy’s Home’ speaking intimately on her experience of “waiting patiently” for her father’s return. 

The album is punctuated by three separate interludes, titled ‘Humming - Interlude’ 1, 2 and 3, which aids the ghostly continuity of the album and establishes the work as a series of interconnected memories and thoughts rather than distinct sections pulled . from random moments in the artist’s life. Tracks like ‘Live In The Dream’ and ‘My Baby Wants a Baby’, particularly, are employed by the artist as musical vehicles into her life and musical history. 

It is no secret that one of the artist’s biggest musical influence comes from the illustrious David Bowie, and ‘Live In The Dream’ almost feels like it was produced by the man himself. Slow, heavy drums, a poignant electric guitar solo and ethereal backing vocals are meshed together and laid under the lyrics “there’s a lot of people who wanna do you harm, but stay with me, you fallen lamb”. Whilst it is uncertain who the ‘fallen lamb’ she is referencing could be, perhaps her recently returned father or some inner child that needs nurturing, St Vincent is taking on a maternal, almost saintly role in this track, as her namesake would suggest. ‘My Baby Wants A Baby’ takes the format of Sheela Easton’s ‘9 to 5 (Morning Train)’ (1981), a track about domestic simplicities and dutiful housewifery, again reflecting this matriarchal role St Vincent may be taking on. 

Just before ‘Humming – Interlude 3’ can round off the LP, the track ‘Candy Darling’ takes centre-stage. It is a dreamy track, dubbed after Andy Warhol’s muse and transgender icon of the early 70s who is said to have greatly influenced the making of ‘Daddy’s Home’ – this can be seen in a lot of the promotional artwork created for the LP. However, the lyrics of the track “I hope you will be comin’ home to me” remind us that, under the veil of St Vincent’s idolatry of Candy Darling, is a longing to have her father home. 

In this work of catharsis, we see St Vincent emerge as a figure of childlike innocence from her spilt home truths. The album is grungy, electric, and true to St Vincent’s style. This is a brilliantly new approach taken by the artist, however, one that truly pays off. 

Maddie Bridger



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