Annie Clark’s work as St. Vincent has been remarkably multi-faceted and she’s proven particularly adept at moving from angular chamber pop to squelching guitar rock to infectious electronic pop. She can make those transitions across a song or an album or between albums and it doesn’t feel the slightest bit forced.
She’s never made a song like “New York.” The song is one of the sparsest thing’s Clark’s done as St. Vincent as it consists mainly of measured piano keys and metronomic percussion that’s nearly inaudible for stretches. And when it opens up, as it does during the chorus, we hear an anthemic and multi-tracked Clark that I can kind of recall from “Champagne Year” or “Prefer Your Love” but not quite like this. She’s so wistful and full of regret over losing a friend that it feels almost too personal to be hearing. “I have lost a hero, I have lost a friend, but for you darling I’d do it all again” the line goes. It’s gutting to even type because as St. Vincent sings in the song “you’re the only motherfucker in the city who can handle me.” This isn’t just some lovestruck, torch holding ballad here. “New York” is a musical lamentation about what it means when someone leaves your life. Inside jokes and secrets and sepia-tone memories and talks that stretch until 3 am disappear. And then even the biggest city in the country starts to feel like a ghost town.