Analogue Music | St Vincent - "Los Ageless" + "Teenage Talk"
"Teenage Talk" + "Los Ageless"

"Teenage Talk" + "Los Ageless"

Artist: St Vincent · Written by Scott Elingburg

Date Released

13 October, 2017


Loma Vista

I fell out of love with St Vincent for a few years but I don’t know the exact reason why.

And it’s not possible for me to say she’s won my heart back, but she’s laid out a welcome mat at the front door and sprinkled some goodwill around the threshold. I’ll approach slowly. 

St Vincent—really, just Annie Clark but it’s near-impossible to divorce her from her musical persona at this point—has been one of the biggest and one of the most visual transformations of the Aughts. It’s not often that you see a musician find her voice in the glaring light of the spotlight and find it with such emphasis and confidence.  

Taking stock of St Vincent’s discography is like watching a time-lapse video of a seed blooming forth into a harsh environment and fighting for it’s food. Not that Clark is fighting for basic necessities now, but she's definitely taken off the kid gloves and slipped on her brass knuckles, specifically on her last two albums, her self-titled LP, St Vincent, and MASSEDUCTION

MASSEDUCTION, so far, sounds and feels like an exacting type of artpop project worthy of Marcel DuChamp, Wire, and Talking Heads. Visually and aurally, it’s stunning and it is cultivated to be as quizzical as possible but still accessible. You see this in the hyper-domesticity of the video for “Los Ageless,” and its kin, the surveillance imagery of the video for “Digital Witness.” 

But the meat of “Los Ageless” isn’t in the full-bodied, compressed riff that kicks it off, it’s in the merciless choral refrain: “How can anybody have you? / How can anybody have you and lose you? / And not lose their minds?” For all we know, she could be talking about her relationship with us, her musical witnesses. It could be a cry for help in the midst of a lonely, rock-bottom dark night of the soul, but Clark won’t give us the context. We don't need it. Her urgency and our response is all that we deserve.

"Los Ageless" is a far cry from the deadly sincerity of “Teenage Talk,” probably one of my favorite St Vincent tracks. A single that didn’t find a home on any LPs, “Teenage Talk” almost unbearably naked. From the embarrassing photo that marks its cover to the plea to, “Promise me that you won’t go changing,” the song is crippling in the strength of its honest emotion. 

But I see why it didn’t find a home on her latest LPs; it’s too much of a pop song and lacks the amped-up production that drowns out the quieter moments of St Vincent or even Strange Mercy. But pairing “Teenage Talk” next to “Los Ageless,” brings out the kindred nature of both tracks. “Los Ageless” may vie for your attention with its frenetic back-and-forth but don’t be fooled; it’s message resides in the same orbit as “Teenage Talk.” The only difference lies in the volume. 

To me, it sounds like “Los Ageless” is just “Teenage Talk” a bit more grown up and unafraid to look in the rearview at the friends and memories that have gotten trashed in her wake. Clark picked up and left Texas for California (and New York) in her songs, but she can’t outrun who she is. And she's aware of that. She’s the same girl throwing up in the bushes and eyeballing the coming changes with suspicion and terror. But before she left, she made sure that we see ourselves in that girl. I know I do.