4 weeks ago
Whereas last year's MASSEDUCTION was an a Friday night out - all-encompassing, all-consuming, and all-arousing. MassEducation, however, is the complete opposite – despite being constructed of exactly the same songs. Annie Clark. MassEducation is an evening drive, a neon-light in the darkness, a cocktail bar on a Wednesday. It’s the aloof, debonair younger sibling to its bloody-minded, red-blooded sister. MassEducation smokes outside. It prefers white wine to red. It’s an antidote to modernity where the original adhered to all of the rules of ‘now’. There’s no confusion: MassEducation is pure, emphatic. Clark strips all of the excess from MASSEDUCTION and bestows upon the new versions her own, sincere power.
Let’s talk about the new versions. “Los Ageless” is the standout on both records. On this record, it’s a dainty, soulful piano ballad that doesn’t mess with that brain-tickling hook. By resisting the urge to change it completely, Clark shows that her instincts have remained just as sharp despite the fact that she’s spent the last year touring the hell out of these songs.
The “Savior” here is, surprisingly, sexier than the original. It starts slowly, longing and aching, before building to an incredibly intense crescendo. “Pills” takes on a frazzled, deranged angle that makes you think of the earlier St. Vincent material – specifically the drugged-up Disney of Actor.
On the cover of this new version, we see Clark with her back to the camera, seemingly naked: Look a bit deeper and it’s more than that. It’s actually her this time: the legs and ass on the cover of MASSEDUCTION belonged to her friend. This is Annie telling us that this version is closer to the real her, but she’s still keeping something back. She’s nude, but covered. The photo is revealing, but not necessarily erotic. It’s a magnificent cover to a magnificent record.
MassEducation hangs together better than its predecessor. It’s precise where MASSEDUCTION was deliciously sloppy. However, they’re both as near to perfect as a record is going to get these days – incredibly perceptive, personal and inviting with clever lyrics sitting on beautifully inventive melodies.