To be blunt: St. Vincent has been killing it so far with every single released for her upcoming self-titled album. “Birth in Reverse” was a riff-fest, with Annie Clark at her wittiest and most ferocious. It was something new, a place that she had never ventured to before. With “Digital Witness”, Clark showed us something more representative of her work with David Byrne. It had a louder sound with lyrics fearing the future. The third single St. Vincent has released, “Prince Johnny”, is more reminiscent of their 2011 album Cruel, and that certainly isn’t a bad thing.
It’s a pretty eerie track; the percussion is soft in the background and maintains the same tempo throughout. Clark’s singing is as good as ever, but very soft. Her verses are quiet, almost as if she’s reciting poetry. The chorus has an insatiable hook and showcases her sorrowfully moaning, making the lyrics feel all the more somber. But it’s the subtle guitars sprinkled throughout the background that are the real treat. Clark’s guitar work is at its best here, with jazzy breakdowns and chugs that really capture the tone of her singing.
The lyrics tell a personal story while also providing an intriguing character study. Clark’s wit is still at the forefront, the lines both smart and tragic at once. It’s also full of references to her own interests – the chorus is an allusion to Pinocchio, a character from the classic ’30s/’40s era of Disney movies that Clark has admitted to drawing inspiration from. “Prince Johnny” is yet another great single to add to the previous two. It brings St. Vincent back to their peak 2011 sound and tells an endearing story that Clark portrays with all the beauty and sorrow she can muster. February 25th can’t come any faster.