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From album to album, over a decade, her sales as well as her reviews have improved in happy tandem.The most recent album, 2014’s St Vincent, was her best to date, a wild, raucous thing, written in part during Ambien-soaked nights on tour, that eventually won her a Grammy.
During the review period, profanity and racial slurs were commonplace, some users were scantily clad, one 13-year-old was asked sexually charged questions, and one broadcast showed someone preparing marijuana.Lyrically, she might choose a thing (prostitution, CCTV surveillance, prescription drugs) and then chew it over in repetitive, often anguished ways, before elevating the mood with a sudden joke. For 18 months or so, until a break-up made public last summer, Clark was going out with Cara Delevingne, arguably the best-known model in the world.In the museum, while leaning over a glass display of clay death masks and shrunken human heads, we discuss Clark’s scaling achievements as St Vincent.Before I know quite how, she’s got me talking about an irrational fear of being buried alive. Clark peers with interest at a display of old enema syringes and explains that in every unfamiliar city, “you should try to see something real and strange”.It was something the Talking Heads frontman David Byrne once advised her about touring the world, and she’s stuck to it ever since.Seen live, Clark’s fingers flit over the strings of her instrument with utmost precision – that’s the real in her. In the manner of FKA twigs or Héloïse “Christine and the Queens” Letissier, she is a performance artist as much as she is a performer; last year Clark played a gig dressed as a toilet, complete with cistern, protruding bowl and flush.
The strange comes via the writing and the composition, which on her four St Vincent albums since 2007 have tended towards the experimental and jagged-edged. And like twigs, who for many years has been in a relationship with the Twilight actor Robert Pattinson, Clark has managed to cultivate a shadowy, unknowable persona while at the same time dating a wildly high-profile superstar.
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he musician St Vincent, a 34-year-old Texan whose real name is Annie Clark, is talking about body piercings.
Though her outfit today includes such exotic items as a leopardskin onesie and a pink blazer made of some sort of wetsuit fabric, Clark doesn’t have any outlandish piercings herself; she just has droll and strong opinions about them, as she has droll and strong opinions about a lot of things.
“It sounds like a very Pollyanna-ish thing to say,” Clark says, “but my ethos has always been to just make the music that I hear in my head.