When pop wunderkind Jack Antonoff revealed that he was working on St. Vincent’s new album earlier this year, many fans of the indie singer/songwriter/guitar virtuoso reacted with disgust. Angry Mark Cuban GIFs, questions like “Where’s the guitar? Wtf is this new single?” and brusque statements like “Friends don’t let friends get Antonoffed” abounded online, highlighting the gap between Annie Clark’s avant-garde credibility and the Bleachers frontman’s populist streak.
Indeed, the only new St. Vincent track since that announcement, “New York,” marks a departure from most of her past work. It lacks irregular tunings and time signatures, opaque lyrics, and perhaps most importantly, shredding. It’s drenched in nostalgia, heartache, strings, “perfect” pop chord progressions, and attention-grabbing utterances of the word “motherfucker.” Taylor Swift seemed to wipe out poptimism overnight with her awful new single but please, don’t throw “New York” under the bus with it. It may not sound like the Annie Clark you know and love, but it’s still a great breakup song, a great pop song, and a great New York song.
In keeping with this pristine, impeccably curated new incarnation of St. Vincent is the video that’s just arrived for “New York.” Directed by visual artist Alex Da Corte, its guiding principle seems to be color coordination, with Clark shown wearing a different outfit for every hue-tastic scene. Da Corte doesn’t seem to have much experience in the music video world, but as this clip consists of little more than still life sets, his talents are put to great use.
If you’ve ever lived in Lower Manhattan, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’re going to feel some type of way when Clark sings “New York isn’t New York without you, love/Too few of our old crew left on Astor” while pushing around the Astor Place Cube. Maybe some will think that this visual ploy is too cheap, too surface-level, but just like Antonoff’s production and songwriting, it’s liable to make critical thought go out the window while you’re too busy dealing with visceral emotion. Don’t fight it.