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The Sunflower

REVIEW: St. Vincent’s ‘All Born Screaming’ album mixes genres and tells different stories

Album+art+courtesy+of+Total+Pleasure%2C+VMG%2C+St.+Vincent
Album art courtesy of Total Pleasure, VMG, St. Vincent

Indie rock band St. Vincent released their seventh studio album, “All Born Screaming,” in April, and it includes eerie storytelling, themes of apocalypse and slow to upbeat tracks that mix genres throughout the album.

“Hell Is Near”

“Hell Is Near” is my favorite track off this album, no questions asked. I liked the intro to the song and how it starts off quiet with slow drum beats and then it fades into a slow bass guitar with slightly faster drumming. 

The song has a slow and spooky feel and almost has a Pink Floyd “Dark Side of The Moon” vibe to it, which would explain why this is a favorite. 

The song includes a variety of guitars ranging from bass to acoustic and it mixes well with the beat of the drums. Toward the end it fades out with piano notes and fades into the next track, “Reckless,” with the piano. I love when songs fade into each other, and the transition between the tracks is near seamless. 

“Hell Is Near” is one of the songs on the album I would listen to on repeat because it’s good and it’s slow, but not too slow to the point that it’s boring. 

“Reckless”

While “Reckless” is the song that my favorite track off this album fades into, I can’t say I have the same amount of passion for it as I did for the previous track. 

This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good song by any means. I liked the song but it was hard for me to really get into it and stay engaged, especially since the first half of the song is really slow and it takes a while to get to a faster part before it ends. 

This is one of those songs that I would listen to more than once on occasion, but not all the time or have it on repeat. In other words, I’d have to skip this song unless I’m in the mood to listen to it. 

“Broken Man” 

“Broken Man” was fun to listen to. It had a Garbage “I’m Only Happy When it Rains” feel to it, especially in the beginning with the techno sounds that gives it the ‘80s/’90s feel.

This song has a lot of heavy bass included in it, which made it fun to headbang or dance to. This is another song I would listen to on repeat because it’s fun.  

“Big Time Nothing”

“Big Time Nothing” is another song on the album with fun upbeat tempos that makes it a headbanger. 

The song is catchy but it’s also repetitive, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the song is also partially instrumental and it also repeats the same lyrics over and over again, which can get kind of boring. 

This is another one of those songs that I would not listen to on repeat, but would listen to every once in a while. 

“The Power’s Out”

“The Power’s Out” is a slow yet captivating song that tells a story that really ties into the theme of apocalypse. 

This eerie song keeps you engaged by telling the story of how an ordinary Monday morning at a subway station turns into a disaster when the power goes out across the nation. The narrator is shot as witnesses look on, waiting for their train. 

The beat is consistent throughout the song with the hills and valleys of St. Vincent’s lead singer Annie Clark’s voice, which compliments the tempo really well. 

Songs and albums that tell a story have been consistent throughout the decades with examples including Melanie Martinez’s entire discography telling the story of a character named “Crybaby,” the Eagles with their chart-topping 1976 album, “Hotel California,” and another recent example being Taylor Swift’s “no body, no crime” featuring rock band, HAIM. 

I love it when songs tell good stories because they’re intriguing and they keep you hooked. This song is no different and it’s another favorite track of mine and one that I would most likely listen to again. 

“Sweetest Fruit”

“Sweetest Fruit” is a very fun and upbeat song that tells the stories of two different LGBTQ+ figures in music and visual journalism. 

This song is dedicated to trans singer, SOPHIE, who passed away in 2021 from a tragic accident where she fell off a balcony after trying to get a better view of the moon that night. 

When talking about SOPHIE’s death and the song, Clark said, “I was an admirer from afar, we never met, but I read about the way that she fell because she was trying to get a better look at the moon, which was just the most beautiful, poetic thing I’ve ever heard.” 

The other person the song tells the story of is Daniel Sotomayor, who was the first openly gay political cartoonist. He died of AIDS in 1992. 

Sotomayor had his cartoons published in a variety of papers across the country and co-founded the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power branch in his home city of Chicago. 

Another thing to note about this song is that this song uses the term “fruit” which is clever because Clark herself is queer and she talks about queer figures in this song. 

As I explained before, I love when songs tell stories so this song is another favorite of mine off the album and one I could listen to over and over again. 

“So Many Planets”

“So Many Planets” makes a great summer song; it’s upbeat and it mixes genres of rock and reggae together that it makes it fun. The lyrics to the song are dark but the upbeat tempos hide that very well.

This song reminds me of Blondie’s 1980s cover of the Paragon’s 1967 song, “The Tide is High.” Clark’s voice compliments the reggae-rock tones that it sounds a little bit like Debbie Harry’s voice on their version of the song. 

I also love that Clark used the idea of visiting planets as a metaphor for fitting in and finding those who will accept you for the person that you are. 

This is another song that would likely be on my on-repeat Spotify playlist in the near future just because it’s a great song to listen to while chilling outside on your porch with a cold drink in hand on a hot summer day. 

“All Born Screaming”

I have some things to say about this song … I’m not a fan. “All Born Screaming” is the title track and the longest song on the album and it started out as a decent song. 

It had an upbeat and poppy tempo to it with inclusions of light bass. Then it just cuts silent halfway through the song, then it fades to a slow then fast-paced heartbeat-like sound then goes back to slow and eerie. 

It’s not the slow and eerie part that gets me, it’s the going silent then fading into a completely different sound in the middle of the song. If I wasn’t paying attention to what I was listening to and I all of a sudden hear a song go silent for a brief second, I would be confused. 

This is the only song that I have included here that I would skip on this album altogether just because I was not a fan of it at all. 

Overall

This album was good but, as stated before, there are some songs that I wouldn’t listen to on repeat and there’s songs from the album that I didn’t include on here that I would skip completely just because I couldn’t get into to them as much. 

The album conveyed the idea of an apocalyptic theme well, but it also gave an escape by mixing in other themes of queer stories and using the idea of visiting planets as a metaphor to fit in until you find your people.

I think the album does a good job of mixing in other themes as well and it’s done in a way that it fits the album and it’s not random or an abrupt change, so kudos to St. Vincent for that.  

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About the Contributor
Jacinda Hall
Jacinda Hall, Reporter
Jacinda Hall is a reporter for The Sunflower. Hall is a Senior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Hall hopes to pursue a career in writing, editing or teaching journalism at the high school level after graduation. Hall uses she/her pronouns.

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