Exclusive First Listen: St. Vincent's 'Actor'

When Annie Clark emerged in 2007 with her debut album under the name St. Vincent, it was clear that she was an exceptionally talented artist. Marry Me won over fans and music critics with its off-kilter rhythms, unconventional mix of strings and electronics, and Clark's cryptic lyrics. But there was little to indicate that St. Vincent would take the sort of sonic leap it takes on this year's breathtaking follow-up, Actor. The arrangements are more sophisticated, the songs more evolved and expansive, with cascading walls of noise and scorching guitars that crash into moments of delicate grace and beauty. At the center of it all remains Annie Clark's beguiling voice. Hear Actor in its entirety here on NPR Music as part of our Exclusive First Listen series.

Annie Clark got her start as a guitarist for The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens' touring band. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, she played nearly every instrument on Marry Me. For Actor, Clark plays guitar, bass and keys, with woodwind contributions from Hideaki Aomori (Sufjan Stevens) and Alex Sopp (Bjork, Phillip Glass), and additional rhythm-section work by McKenzie Smith and Paul Alexander of Midlake.

Actor is due out on May 5.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.