‘All Born Screaming’ Review: St. Vincent Finds Catharsis in Compelling New Album

The album cover artwork for St. Vincent's latest record, "All Born Screaming," featuring band leader Annie Clark bending over while her arms are on fire in front of a black backdrop.

St. Vincent’s latest record and first self-produced endeavor, All Born Screaming, is raw, unfiltered, and punchy, with an eclectic mix of tracks. Anne Clark delivers work that’s simultaneously hopeful and brimming with darkness.

Hell Is Near (and Hopeful)

An example of that hopefulness in action is the opening track, “Hell Is Near.” One particular lyric that stands out is, “The beginning, the beginning, the beginning is still ahead.” As evidenced here, this album has a shift in perspective and displays a real maturity in St. Vincent’s music.

“Hell Is Near” boasts a ’90s alt-rock feel that sounds like something Tori Amos or Nine Inch Nails might birth, or, to use a more contemporary artist, Meg Myers. The pulsating, thumping bass line and steady drum take center stage, driving the sound forward. In addition, there’s an ethereal quality to the song.

Experimenting With Sound

St. Vincent doesn’t shy away from the depth, breadth, and versatility of sound. In All Born Screaming, she truly showcases what she’s capable of, both sonically and lyrically. For example, “Reckless” integrates synths and new-wave vibes along with intriguing composition.

“Broken Man” is an uptempo, techno number featuring Anne Clark’s voice at its most primal — it pierces and quivers, shrieks and wavers. Then, it transitions into a heavier, harder rock sound that’ll surely get you on your feet and headbanging. (Which is fitting, considering Dave Grohl plays the drums for this one.)

Other tracks like “Flea” lean into St. Vincent’s alternative/indie rock roots with ’70s funk-tinged, groovy guitar riffs. Meanwhile, tunes like “The Power’s Out” seem influenced by ’90s trip-hop acts like Portishead. The album’s penultimate song, “So Many Planets,” infuses choral vocals in the background with soft harmonies and an out-of-this-world, dreamy sound.

I’d be remiss if I omitted the record’s title track, “All Born Screaming,” which coasts on an electronica, dance feel with a slapping bass line. Soft vocals build toward a climax juxtaposed with quiet guitars and tinny drums.


All Born Screaming is an amalgam of themes that showcase St. Vincent’s lyrical prowess. From the spark of hopefulness in “Hell Is Near” to gems like “I’ll tear you limb from limb, or I’ll fall in love” in “Reckless,” this album has some of Anne Clark’s best writing yet.

However, “Broken Man” might have my favorite lyric: “I can hold my arms wide open, but I need you to drive the nail.” It speaks to how we put those we love on a pedestal, only to yank that pedestal away and send them tumbling to the ground.

Additionally, “Violent Times” cuts to the quick with lines like, “You’re the same, but I got different eyes” — simple yet potent and profoundly resonant for anyone who’s moved on from a relationship. Meanwhile, “All Born Screaming” features this stellar lyric: “I have climbed into open arms; they turned into a straight jacket.”

Then, there’s “Sweetest Fruit,” a dedication to Sophie, the late Scottish music producer St. Vincent deeply admired. The first verse touches on Sophie’s desire to climb on the roof to “get a better view of the moon.” It’s a tender homage with an otherworldly vibe, sound-wise.


St. Vincent’s lyrics in All Born Screaming have a distinctly intimate authenticity. They’re unequivocally real. You can feel them in your bones. Throw in her musically diverse compositions and penchant for bold sounds, and you’ve got a damn near-perfect album.

As the title track states, “We’re all born screaming.” It means we’re alive. St. Vincent taps into the state of being alive and the emotions it elicits in a beautifully crafted, immersive, genre-defying album.

This one will be on repeat for a while.

St. Vincent’s All Born Screaming is available wherever you get your music.

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