Why St. Vincent’s Not Worried About Confusing Fans With ‘All Born Screaming’

Annie Clark, the art rock icon also known by her stage name, St. Vincent, adopts entirely new personas for virtually every record she releases, and her upcoming album ‘All Born Screaming’ is certainly no exception. Don’t get it? She doesn’t care—in an admittedly nice, figure-it-out-yourself kind of way, of course.

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As the musician embarks on a promotional campaign for her April 2024 release, she’s been getting candid about her purposeful lack of candor around this album.

According to Clark, not getting it is the whole point.

St. Vincent Has No Desire to Spoon Feed Meaning of ‘All Born Screaming’

St. Vincent’s upcoming record ‘All Born Screaming’ promises to be as dark and sinister in musical composition as it is in title. Her first two singles, “Broken Man” and “Flea,” feature sparse arrangements interwoven with jarring bursts of distortion. Featuring Dave Grohl on drums, ‘All Born Screaming’ takes a far more alternative rock approach than the groovy, David Bowie-esque riffs of St. Vincent’s 2020 release ‘Daddy’s Home.’

In a March 2024 interview with The Guardian, St. Vincent said her upcoming album came from her contemplating the duality of life and death. As for specifics, the artist behind the stage persona said those weren’t important. “We all deal with loss of people we love; we all deal with the shattering heartbreak of those losses. I don’t think it matters [who or what the songs are about] because the feeling is universal.”

Clark continued by rebuking the idea that artists should reveal the autobiographical meaning behind their lyrics. “It’s for other people now, not for me,” she said. “I labored over it, I love it, it’s my heart in there, and the sound of the record is the sound of my f***ing brain, but who cares [about specifics]?”

How Keeping Things Vague Creates Deeper Connection

While St. Vincent has certainly shared a few personal insights into the meaning behind the record—for example, the album’s life-and-death inspiration, both sonically and aesthetically speaking—she’s remained tight-lipped about anything more specific. She explained her propensity for vagueness in an interview with Minneapolis’ The Current on Leap Day 2024.

“The listener completes the song. I think in some cases, there’s no good that can come necessarily of going, ‘Well, I was going through this, and so then I wrote this.’ Maybe, maybe, maybe in your like, autobiography when you’re 90. I think it can rob the listener of their experience, and their experience is the most important experience because they get to take it into their lives, and it means whatever it means to them. They get to use it in that way and internalize it in that way.” 

She echoed similar sentiments with The Guardian’s Michael Cragg, who suggested that her second single, “Flea,” made him think of insects digesting a corpse. With a raised eyebrow, Clark replied, “That’s you, and I’m so glad for your feelings and interpretation.” True to form, St. Vincent offered no alternative meaning behind the March 2024 single.

She’d Rather Have You Confused Than Bored By ‘All Born Screaming’

In an age when the public dissects lyrics (and the artists who write them) with visceral fascination, St. Vincent stands alone as a distant, artistic chameleon. While she admitted there is no persona attached to ‘All Born Screaming,’ in a way, of course there is. It might not be the blonde-bobbed Candy Darling look-a-like of ‘Daddy’s Home’ or the latex-clad dominatrix of ‘Masseduction,’ but St. Vincent is a persona in and of herself.

For Clark, this musical ambiguity is a mainstay of her career. If a consequence of this opacity is that some fans and critics misunderstand her, that’s okay. “I’d rather people scratch their heads than yawn,” she told The Guardian. If the first two singles of ‘All Born Screaming’ are any indication, there won’t be much yawning listening to St. Vincent’s seventh studio album, set to release on April 26, 2024.

(Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)

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