Song: Digital Witness
Band: St. Vincent
St. Vincent’s Annie Clark is, as most of the western world knows by now, a hot commodity. She’s endlessly inventive and creatively fearless. Musically her style is her own entirely - and she’s a masterful guitarist, though you wouldn’t know it from watching this video. That’s also what’s neat about her - she plays a wicked guitar but that’s not how she chooses to be exclusively seen. Apparently indifferent to the typical trappings of stardom, Clark carves out an identity on her own terms. Visually, she’s restlessly playful, donning whatever look will work for the moment at hand.
In Digital Witness there’s an unmistakable, tongue-in-cheek Devo vibe - conga lines of expressionless marching men in colourful uniforms with a backdrop of oddly anonymous corporate buildings, monstrous in scale. The effect is at once iconic, lurid, comical and vaguely threatening. The poker-faced gravity of everyone involved also reminds me of vintage Kraftwerk performance antics. St. Vincent is the central character amidst the bedlam - a barely controlled explosion of silvery hair atop her doll-like head, her muted green shift of a dress looking like a cross between a nurses’ uniform and a straitjacket. The extent to which the coolly calculating artist is willing to mold herself into various vividly visual, theatrical incarnations is reminiscent of pioneering predecessors like Madonna and Lady Gaga - though Clark herself comes across as being more enigmatic and elliptical.
The song reflects on the impact social media has on our lives and it makes some trenchant points - but on another level it’s simply a visual tour-de-force which feels effortlessly modern… and radiantly musical.
Posted by Max MacDonald