Annie Clark may look like an animated Disney heroine sprung to life, and the influence of willowy, ethereal singers and songwriters such as Feist and Tori Amos is obvious. But first impressions can be deceptive: There are streaks of violence and perversity running through all of the 27-year-old Texan's work as St. Vincent, and the orchestrated loveliness is liable to give way to a dissonant eruption at any time.
"We're sleeping underneath the bed/To scare the monsters out," Clark sings in "The Bed," one of many surprising moments on the follow-up to "Marry Me," her much-buzzed 2007 debut. "With our dear daddy's Smith and Wesson/We've gotta teach them all a lesson."
A veteran of the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens' touring ensemble, Clark has said she set out to create a "Technicolor animatronic ride," and that the album began when "the little seed to every song was envisioned as a film score." Playing most of the instruments herself (with the most notable assist coming from the rhythm section of indie-rockers Midlake), the artist creates a seamless blend of genres uniquely her own, and excluding a few lapses into overly precious artiness, she succeeds swimmingly.