St Vincent: Daddy’s Home – Sexuality and self-loathing

Fri, May 14, 2021, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Daddy's Home

Artist:
St. Vincent

Label:
Loma Vista

Genre:
Rock

Using character-driven sleaze that dips into reality, Annie Clark’s sixth album is a personal and fantastical adventure. Marrying funk, soul and nostalgic rock, she steps away from her usual sound but, by driving a shock factor with an unusual soft touch, plays a consistent hand of contradictions. 

Following on from 2017’s Masseduction, a futuristic and electronic exploration of destructive desire, Daddy’s Home nods to the music of George Harrison and Steely Dan while delving into the tragedy and comedy of learning who you are through your parents. 

Dealing with the arrest, imprisonment and release of her father, who was incarcerated for 10 years for the manipulation of multimillion-dollar stock, Clark grabs control of the story that was previously splashed out in the tabloids. “I signed autographs in the visitation room, waiting for you the last time, inmate 502,” she sings over lazy organs on the bluesy title track, retelling her version of events with compassion, humour and extreme artistic licence. 

Borrowing the melody from Sheena Easton’s 9 to 5, My Baby Wants a Baby questions how she could possibly become a mother when “I got your eyes and your mistakes”. At the Holiday Party illustrates the price that comes with domesticity. “Pills and jewels and speed. Your little purse a pharmacy. Hide behind these things so no one sees you not getting what you need,” she sings softly, only for a gospel refrain to insist that “you can’t hide from me”. 

Sonically set between 1971 and 1976, this album – which was co-produced with Jack Antonoff – reeks of prestige whiskey on the rocks, avocado green bathrooms, sexuality and self-loathing. With a late-night approach to honesty, Clark is forthright in her downfalls. “If life is a joke, then I’m dying laughing,” she exhales on The Laughing Man. 

Using glitchy funk to bolster her emotional dissociation, Down is a narcissistic revenge fantasy: “Tell me who hurt you – no wait I don’t care”. She dismisses her amour’s daddy issues, pointing one finger back at herself. 

Narrating her own transition to “Daddy”, the heavy material is balanced out with well-placed campness. But there’s a sense that Clark doesn’t know what home means for someone like her. Psychedelic interludes feature a woman humming, drawing us into the idea of a traditional suburbia, but it’s apparent 
that Daddy’s Home is a refuge for lost souls. 

On the lullaby Candy Darling, an ode to the transgender actor and Warholian star, Clark lands on a note of long-awaited acceptance. By inviting Candy home with her, Clark in turn realises where hers is.

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