Song of the Week is a new Friday feature on Faronheit that gives a closer, more in depth look/analysis of a song rather than simply handing it over to your ears. You are invited to share your own thoughts on the Song of the Week in the comments section.
As a guitar virtuoso, it makes perfect sense that Annie Clark places her focus on that element and her vocals for any given St. Vincent song. It’s been that way since the very beginning, though the dynamics of it have changed dramatically over time as Clark has continued to grow as an artist. As a preview to her forthcoming self-titled debut album (out Feb. 25th), “Prince Johnny” flips the script on the listener just a bit by placing an incredibly large amount of emphasis on the beats and percussion. It completely overwhelms everything in the mix except for the vocals, to the point where you might not even notice the bass guitar sliding in at the :20 mark or the initial electric guitar at :40. Only during the chorus does Clark’s guitar come roaring to life to help establish what will become the hook. She’s done something similar before, perhaps most notably on the Strange Mercy single “Cruel,” however there were a lot of other elements playing off one another in that track so the lack of guitar didn’t seem so important. Also, the “Cruel” chorus hit within 30 seconds, whereas “Prince Johnny” takes nearly 3x as long to get there. What does all this mean? Well, it provides a small glimmer of hope that the new record will be more than just a bunch of Clark’s previous work revamped to sound fresh, which is in part what the other two tracks released from the album so far may have implied. A bolder emphasis on beats and other digital elements also plays into the larger themes of the record, slowly stripping away the shreds of our humanity as we become increasingly reliant on technology to do the work for us. When it’s all over, perhaps even Clark’s voice will wind up proverbially buried underneath a pile of noise. We’re just going to have to wait and see on that one.