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St. Vincent’s “All Born Screaming”: Theatrical, Thorny, Thrashing

A Technical Journey

All Born Screaming overflows with power, radiating and echoing with calculated trepidation. Its interweaving textures and seamless flow are entirely transportive and impressively crafted. With All Born Screaming, St. Vincent offers a journey truly unlike any other.

Scaffolding riffs punctuate St. Vincent’s eerie lyrics. The screeching guitar of the opening track crashes against the ghostly, distant vocals. All Born Screaming kicks off with a comforting melancholy reminiscent of ‘90s trip-hop. The following track, “Reckless,” follows in the spirit of Esthero, Massive Attack and Portishead until it explodes with uncontainable force.

A Left Hook

The rest of the album explodes with impressive vigor, writhing with an unruly energy that St. Vincent wrestles and wields to craft her haunting sound. She winds listeners up, only to slam them with unexpected left hooks that completely shift the direction of her songs. In an interview with NPR, she goes so far as to describe such moments as “sonic jump scares” during the album’s exploration of “tension and release.”

At times the album bubbles with the playfulness of early Björk. In fact, “Big Time Nothing” and “Army of Me” have an eerily similar attitude and brain-tickling texture. At other times, it embodies and amplifies the effortless cool of Fiona Apple or PJ Harvey. “Flea” and “Broken Man” are especially rugged and slick. The final song of the album represents this notion to the fullest, using the entirety of its 6 minutes and 55 seconds to drag listeners across an incredibly diverse soundscape. While there are constant switches across the album’s sound, any point within All Born Screaming is sure to pack a punch.

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