Putting a fresh twist on love

Putting a fresh twist on love
Oklahoma polymath St. Vincent (center) and English indie rock band Metronomy comprising (top right, from left) Gbenga Adelekan, Oscar Cash, Joseph Mount and Anna Prior give their take on love.

Declaring one's love in song is possibly the oldest trick in the bag.

Unsurprisingly, it is also the most difficult to pull off without once resorting to R. Kelly's little black book of cornball come-hithers.

This week's albums of the week show you can still nail it, with originality.

From Totnes, England, comes Joseph Mount, the singer-songwriter of Metronomy, the Mercury Prize-nominated quartet who skewer love with extra-terrestrial ambition on their fourth studio release Love Letters.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, statuesque Oklahoma polymath Annie Clarke - aka St. Vincent - opens her heart in her fourth and self-titled album.

Both artists have questioned, toyed with and poked at love. Your synapses fire with wild abandon. Love sucks, love bites, love thrills, love kills.

Listen to the first single off Love Letters, the lovesick disco ditty I'm Aquarius, which takes the age-old habit of matching a couple's horoscopes to a new level.

"You said our love was/Written in the stars… Cause you're a Taurus/and I'm Aquarius," Mount keens on a song about the struggle of maintaining a long- distance relationship. (Appropriately, the 1970s-styled sci-fi music video, directed by Edouard Salier, shows the singer piloting a spaceship and landing on a planet, and meeting hairless felines and sexy-scary aliens.)

The melody itself is chilled lounge-downtempo with gurgling basslines and a retro "shoo-doo-doo-ah" backing vocal by band member Anna Prior.

That's the beauty of Metronomy's latest work: Belying demure synths and keys are raw, brittle emotions. You can almost hear his heart crack a little, as his voice aches.

That "man lost in space" trope is also beautifully realised in the album opener The Upsetter. Over gentle acoustic strums and a knock-on-wood drumbeat, Mount sends his paramour a "message… straight from the satellite".

It ends with the man repeating the line "You really giving me a hard time tonight", as a lonely electric guitar riffs aside.

Comparatively, Clark has always sounded out of this world.

This time around, her strangeness, exemplified by her new gerontophile- nodding peroxide white do, is underscored by some of her most straightforward, unadorned vocals.

The songs are short, sharp, shocking. In I Prefer Your Love, a dedication to her mum who was briefly ill, she pours out her most soulful confession - "But all the good in me is because of you" - over synths and a bare-bones beat which may well be cribbed from Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares 2 U.

Bring Me Your Loves is more aggro, a sado-masochistic tussle between martial drums and haywire synths as she snarls and purrs: "I thought you were like a dog/But you made a pet out of me."

Love, pain, pleasure, loathing - Clark takes these emotions by the horns and rides with them.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.