Always being one to reinvent herself with each album cycle, it makes sense that Annie Clark, known by most as St. Vincent, would follow up her most hyperkinetic, futuristic, and tightest record with something looser and dirtier that reflects on the past. While it’s probably the biggest step away from her older work characterized by noisy, alien production and guitar work, “Daddy’s Home” is some of her finest collection of songs to date and still manages to embody the spirit of what fans of St. Vincent love about her.
Inspired by the recent release of her father from prison and the classic albums he introduced to her, Clark has built the musical soundscape of “Daddy’s Home” with nods to mainly 70’s rock, and while I’ve grown tired of albums living in nostalgia it is incredibly nice to hear someone explore this particular sound considering it seems like it has been mostly left untouched during this wave. The production, made in collaboration with Jack Antonoff, is most groovy, funky, and, specifically, sleazy, invoking the sound of James Brown, older Prince (there’s even some screams on the title track that call back to both artists), and Young Americans era David Bowie. The record is filled with retro guitar, Wurlitzer electric pianos, clavichord, mellotron flutes and strings, soulful call and response backup singers (one of my favorite aspects of the album), sitar, horns, and vintage sounding distortion and flanger on the vocals. It isn’t all funk inspired though, as there are many psychedelic elements (especially with the sitar) as well as moments that callback to artists such as Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Fleetwood Mac, Tori Amos, and many others. I will say there’s a special quality about St. Vincent’s other albums feel like they are in their own separate universe away from anything else that this record doesn’t have, but at least Annie is able to make this beloved sound her own (it also helps that each song is stupidly good).
It’s hard to describe without hearing it, so the best way I can describe the experience of “Daddy’s Home” is that St. Vincent basically wrote the album into the book of classics herself. Each track is instantly catchy, the funky moments absolutely slap, the psychedelic moments sound heavenly, her angelic yet playful voice is as great as ever, her humor never fails to crack a smile, and the more emotional aspects are guaranteed to hit. The lyrical content does reflect on the past, such as moments visiting her dad in prison and honoring some of her female idols, but there’s also plenty of moments that look at the present as well. Annie grapples with the hardships of everyday living, not letting fame get to her head, dealing with the pressure on most women to have a child, and also the vices and lies we tell ourselves and others to not deal with our dissatisfaction with life. St. Vincent used to be defined by how mysterious she could be, but with every new record we get more and more glimpses of what it’s like to be Annie Clarke.
Just like her last record, I’m sure this album will cause some sort of split among her listeners, but I think this is a fantastic project that further proves why St. Vincent has managed to be an indie darling despite sharing the stage with global pop stars. “Daddy’s Home” is a fantastic addition to one of the most solid discographies in modern music, and I’m just as excited as ever to see where St. Vincent goes next.
The interludes add absolutely nothing tho.