Art Pop Innovator St. Vincent Releases Long Awaited Album, Daddy’s Home.

Dino Ortega, Writer

When St. Vincent announced the release of her long awaited seventh album Daddy’s Home, many fans did not know what to expect. 

The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, who has collaborated with artists from folk icon Sujfan Stevens to 70’s superstar David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, received her first batch of universal acclaim with the release of her boundary pushing artpop record Strange Mercy (2011), an album which immediately earned her a seat in the roundtable of indie’s most beloved artists alongside Fleet Foxes and of Montreal. 

However, St. Vincent’s most recent album, 2017’s MASSEDUCATION, did not meet the high standard set by albums like Strange Mercy and her beloved collaborative project with David Byrne, 2012’s Love This Giant. Instead, many St. Vincent stans and music critics alike critiqued MASSEDUCATION as a bland, commercialized attempt to ride and plagiarise 2017’s synthpop wave pioneered by artists like SOPHIE and Charli XCX. 

In discussions about the evolution of St. Vincent’s career in the context of MASSEDUCATION’s release within both articles from major music publications like The Needle Drop and online music forums like Reddit’s r/indieheads, fans and critics alike agreed that the future of St. Vincent’s ability to create further innovative and groundbreaking music was uncertain. 

Some critics believed her capacity to innovate was gone, such as editor-in-chief of music publication The Needle Drop Anthony Fantano, who said in his review of the album that it “features some of St. Vincent’s most fleeting songs, some of her most directionless songs, and while this record does have its moments, they are too far and few between for this album to be considered one of her best albums.” Anthony gave the album a 6 out of 10, which for a St. Vincent album, is a very low score compared to the 8’s and 9’s her previous albums consistently received. 

With the disappointment of MASSEDUCATION, fans and critics were both excited and anxious to see if in Daddy’s Home, announced on March 4 of this year, St. Vincent would redeem herself with a groundbreaking and innovative project as one of indie music’s titans or confirm some fans’ suspicions that the peak of her two decade long career came and went with 2012’s Love This Giant.

Incredibly, not only did Daddy’s Home redeem St. Vincent, but its dense, orchestral, 60’s and 70’s inspired instrumentation and emotionally captivating lyrics entrenched fans and critics with some of the most beautiful ballads indie music has seen since Fleet Foxes’ 2017 experimental folk masterpiece Crack-Up

Daddy’s Home is St. Vincent’s most emotionally charged album yet, with lyrics conveying her trauma stemming from her father’s time in prison and illustrating her artistic struggles and battles with depression; weaving these themes together in a dense quilt of orchestral, transcendent, lush, sometimes folky and sometimes funky instrumentation inspired by landmark albums of the 60’s and 70’s like the Beatles’ Abbey Road, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark

While Daddy’s Home is filled with the sounds of and admiration for the masters of folk and classic rock, St. Vincent puts her own twist on the sounds of the 60s and 70’s, synthesizing the sounds of old and new into a sonic palette truly unheard before in 21st century music. 

The soundscape of Daddy’s Home is refreshing, futuristic, masterfully produced, and surreally intoxicating. This transcendent, intoxicating sound is exemplified by the shoegaze adjacent fourth track on the record “Live in the Dream,” a song that always simultaneously reminds me of both the Beatles song “Sun King” and the Pink Floyd song from the Wall “In the Flesh,” with its orchestral harmonies and roaring guitar solo; but with a distinctly contemporary dreampop twist, as its volume grows satisfyingly overwhelming and its instrumentation layers and layers into a sea of shimmering psychedelia towards the end of the almost seven minute song. St. Vincent has never made music this explicitly transcendent, and it signifies her evolution from the synthpop of the 2010s to the youthful psychedelic shoegaze of 2021.

From Daddy’s Home’s opener “Pay Your Way in Pain” where St. Vincent conveys her distinctly 60’s dissatisfaction with the world’s cultural and economic status quo accompanied by pounding drums and complex vocal harmonies, to the album’s closer “Candy Darling,” an ode to trans icon, Warhol Superstar, and muse of the Velvet Underground Candy Darling, Daddy’s Home simultaneously silences any critic who doubted St. Vincent’s ability to continue innovating music and truly redefines what indie music can be, crafting the perfect synthesis of nostalgia for the folk and classic rock of the 70’s with the contemporary sounds of shoegaze and dreampop that will be the playbook by which indie artists synthesize the sounds of the 70’s with the sounds of modern music for years to come. Yes, it’s that mind blowing.