The Best Tracks of the ’00s, No. 7: St. Vincent – “The Apocalypse Song”
The decade has almost come to an end. And of course, you know what that means-lists, `best ofs’ and all kinds of general retrospective features and columns. Treble is no exception, hard at work on figuring out the best albums and singles of the past nine years. Yet, before we get into albums and singles, we’re taking a look at the best non-single tracks to emerge since the Y2K scare proved to be a non-event. Every week we’ll be highlighting a handful of our favorite tracks of the decade, so keep checking back to hear about what songs remained on repeat on our iPods, CD players, tape decks and turntables since Jan. 1, 2000.
St. Vincent “The Apocalypse Song”
from Marry Me
Annie Clark, the charismatic chanteuse behind St. Vincent, is innocent looking. But one listen to stunning standout “The Apocalypse Song” from her debut album Marry Me is evidence enough of her carnal needs. The music itself is sumptuous and seductive, a gorgeous piece of Kate Bush style art pop. But it’s in Clark’s lyrical wordplay where the song becomes even more interesting. Not your typical song about gettin’ some, “The Apocalypse Song” puts sex into truly abstract terms. When she sings “carbon, my body, a million years of light” the apocalypse thing may start to make sense, but it’s not until she sings “you wake with the stitches over both your eyes/ and deny me my body and all earthly delights” that she begins to reveal her intentions.
Sex becomes a battle, a conquest, perhaps a rivalry. Clark expresses her frustration through the chorus “time and light/ I guess you are afraid of what everyone is made of” but becomes more aggressive during the second verse. She sings “all your praying moments amount to just one breath” before playfully exhaling, and then pleas, “please keep your victory/ but give me little death.” Anyone who knows their French would call this a single entendre. That this song is so highbrow and dirty is enough to make my head spin. It’s hard not to revel in the puns that Annie dispenses, in addition to the jaw-dropping, string-laden arrangement. That it thumbs its nose at puritanical moralists merely gives it bonus points. – Jeff Terich
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.