Annie Clark, who records as St. Vincent, has “always juxtaposed the cruel and the kind,” said Jessica Suarez in Spin. On 2007’s Marry Me, the doe-eyed singer hid her cynicism under willowy chamber pop, but she plunges into the depths of her “vicious inner life” on Actor. The “baroque arrangements are even more complex and her voice even prettier” than before, yet the menacing cloud hovering over the album is palpable. “Even Actor’s lovelier moments come tinged with a down-the-rabbit-hole danger,” said Sean O’Neal in The Onion. “The Strangers” starts deceptively sweet, but quickly shifts from “dreamy to deranged.” “Actor Out of Work,” despite a “propulsive thrum,” stings with put-downs like, “You’re the curses through my teeth.” Mixing the sweet with the bitter can be “a stunning effect when used sparingly,” said Rachel Maddux in Paste, “but here it becomes a matter of course.” Still, Clark’s an intriguing songbird who’s just beginning to spread her wings.
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