Annie Clark's first new song as St. Vincent in two years, "New York," sounded like a break with tradition when it came out in June. Smoother and less lyrically acerbic than much of Clark's best music—it shares little with "Jesus Saves, I Spend," "Laughing With a Mouth of Blood," or "Psychopath"—it followed its straight piano chords like a pop song. And it was a pop song. Like just about every other pop song in the world right now, it was produced by Jack Antonoff. And as a standalone pop song, it was beautiful: a moving eulogy to a dead city, a rumination on broken friendships, a dry look at loneliness and co-dependence. We'd all be poorer if Antonoff produced St. Vincent's Melodrama 2.0—Clark's music can be weirder and more wonderful than that. But that doesn't mean "New York" has to be cast out as a bad omen.
Clark released the video for "New York" this morning. It was directed by the visual artist Alex Da Corte and, like most of his work, it combines bold block colors with careful human detail. Clark delivers the song straight-faced, dead-on, wearing a more brilliant color in each take. The pastel visions only break twice, when Clark wears a black dress behind a burning green flower, and when the camera focuses on the Alamo sculpture to coincide with Clark's mention of its home on Astor Place. And, even then, there's half a person hanging out of the cube, waving her legs in fuchsia tights.
Clark and Da Corte turn bodega storefronts and studio shots into flat-pack art, and it's charming. "I think Annie's New York is the New York of my dreams—one that is blurry and fractured, dreamy and flat," Da Corte said in a statement. "It is the Toontown to my Hollywood. It is beautiful but slightly out of reach."
Watch the video at the top of the page and please stop freaking out about smooth-pop St Vincent.
If Jack Antonoff produces Melodrama 2.0 with St. Vincent, feel free to screenshot this and drag Alex Robert Ross on Twitter.