Even as her albums and concerts become more ambitious, St. Vincent's Annie Clark wouldn't be anywhere without the fundamentals she reminds listeners of with MassEducation. Recorded over a couple of evenings during MASSEDUCTION's mixing sessions, on the album Clark and pianist Thomas Bartlett strip down the album's songs to reveal new layers of closeness and distance, sincerity and artifice. It's a given that ballads like "Slow Disco," "Happy Birthday, Johnny," and "New York" sound as good, if not better, here than they did with MASSEDUCTION's glossy, intricate productions, but MassEducation is arguably most interesting when Clark reinvents the album's most synthetic-sounding pop songs. "Los Ageless" finds new life as a slinky torch ballad, while "Sugarboy" sounds even more reckless without a drumbeat holding it down. Clark and Bartlett get especially creative with the arrangements on "Pills," which shift from a nagging, rumbling low end to fizzy, high arpeggios, and "Savior," where Bartlett's rippling playing unleashes the song's pathos as much as Clark's singing. Her voice rightfully takes center stage on MassEducation in a way it couldn't on MASSEDUCTION, and it's a treat to hear her unadorned, muscular soprano on "Young Lover" and the brief, dazzling reinterpretation of "Fear the Future." Occasionally, MassEducation borders on being too stark for its own good, but the songs hold their power in this unvarnished setting.
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MassEducation based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Just stunning. Great counterpoint to Mass Seduction. Worth the price alone for the heartbreaking version of Los Ageless.