Annie Clark—otherwise known as St. Vincent—has a very different idea of what New York is than I do, but I suppose that’s part of the fun.
In the video for “New York,” the lead single off her forthcoming album about “sex and drugs and sadness,” St. Vincent makes a phone call on a landline from the flower display of a bodega. She and a swan friend lounge on a radiant orchid sofa that’s been sawed in half, with a box fan blowing in the corner. Later, she will come close enough to touch the swan, in a scene that made me more nervous than the bundle of burning salad greens she later uses as a mic.
“Where is New York,” you’re wondering, if you’re watching this video expecting a literal interpretation of a song that is, by St. Vincent’s own account, about mourning a “composite” of losses—the end of her relationship with Cara Delevingne, perhaps, and David Bowie’s death. Is this what New York is for St. Vincent? Yes, probably—pretty colors, great clothes, artful eyeshadow and surrealism lite.
In a profile of St. Vincent published in The New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten speculated that because “New York” is a “fairly straight-ahead piano ballad” lamenting loss of some sort and because she teamed up with Jack Antonoff to produce some of her new work, this is St. Vincent’s attempt at pop. While I don’t hear Antonoff’s slick, earnest influence in this track and am nervous about what he might do with St. Vincent’s kooky spirit, I will say this: if this is her way of doing pop, I’m here for it.