A few months ago I started a Spotify playlist called ‘Tom’s Weekly Jam’, to which I add my favourite song of the week each Friday. My aim was to create a musical time capsule of sorts, a way of looking back and seeing what I was into at any given time, and I’ve managed to keep it up for about 18 weeks now. I’m still in love with some of these songs, while others have aged… less well, and reflect the fallibility of my taste. Either way, if it’s the song I enjoyed most in a given week, then it’s going in the playlist. Now that I’m writing about my other interests on this site, I thought it would be fun to post a few thoughts on each track that gets designated as my Weekly Jam.
This week I’ve been greatly enjoying St. Vincent’s new single “Los Ageless” from her forthcoming album MASSEDUCTION. I’ve become a big fan of St. Vincent’s ever since I first listened to her excellent Beats 1 show St. Vincent’s Mixtape Delivery Service a couple of years ago. Her warmth and charm on that show led to me delving into her back catalogue, from which I particularly enjoyed her first and fourth albums, and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing her live in Manchester next month. St. Vincent (born Annie Clark) is an extremely gifted songwriter who pulls off that tricky feat of creating music that is super catchy but remains interesting to listen to for the fifth, tenth and hundredth time.
If the contrast between “Los Ageless” and previous single “New York” is anything to go by, this is going to be a very diverse album; despite the titles suggesting some kind of thematic link, the two songs couldn’t be more different. “New York” is a wistful piano ballad, an ode both to the titular city and to a romance that lived and died there. “Los Ageless”, on the other hand, is bitter and acidic, a damning portrayal of the vapidness and shallowness that can be found in LA. The song instantly betrays a strong Depeche Mode influence, the main riff bearing a distinct similarity to “Policy of Truth”. ‘In Los Ageless, the mothers milk their young,’ Clark sings breathily over synths and drum machines, the atmosphere moody and tense before we arrive at a really interesting chorus. The same pleading lyric is repeated and built upon here as the chord progression continues steadily downward, pulling us further and further into St. Vincent’s Californian pit of despair.
Where this song really comes to life, though, is the bridge. All instrumentation except for drums and a distorted, compressed guitar falls away as Clark sings in falsetto and guttural yells. This section of the song is killer, and while I wish it could go on for longer, I know that it has more value in its brevity than it would if it were extended. This bridge, which serves as a kind of climax to the song before an atmospheric outro, almost sounds like Nine Inch Nails, and I for one am ridiculously excited about St. Vincent’s music heading in this direction. Again, it seems that this album will have a pretty varied sound, but give me just one more track that matches the grit and intensity of this bridge and I’ll be a happy man. 13th October can’t come soon enough.