Label: 4AD Released: 04/05/09 If you've once been a part of Sufjan Stevens and Polyphonic Spree's touring band you have some eclectic tastes and influences. Add supporting the likes of Arcade Fire, The National, Midlake and Death Cab to name but a few with your own project, St Vincent to that and you have a artist that's as experienced as you could probably get after just two releases. St Vincent's Annie Clark doesn't stop there though, David Bowie's pianist, Mike Garson got involved on her debut album, Marry Me. Now that's some history. This concoction makes for an intriguing sound on Actor, her second offering. When writing Actor, she apparently 'immersed herself' in her favourite films including Badlands, Sleeping Beauty and The Wizard of Oz, and it comes through unbelievably strongly. Clark began each song as a film score and developed the songs from there on, making it sound dark and somewhat strange. Added to this, Clark has a classic, haunting voice that is made ever more mysterious when soaked in reverb. Lyrically it is equally as dark, 'There's a black rainbow above my house/match the curtains and the floor.' It's the kind of album that requires your full attention, if you dip in and out you'll get lost in it and wonder what on earth is going on. But if you leave it to do it's work, it can become a  magical fantasia, strange, but magical. Actor creates vivid imagery of antiquity, an antiquity shadowed by heavy drum beats and modern overtones throughout. All together it truly is an inventive beast that maintains a balance that shouldn't really work, such as the choral hymn-like backing vocals on Save Me From What I Want contrasted by a punchy drum beat, fitting without ever sounding out of place. The full sounding drums are a constant while all kind of things happen around them, a saw-synth or baroque strings or hammond organ. It's an record filled with these kinds of contrasts, like the soft Actor Out Of Work melody line over a fast-paced electric guitar and usual emphatic drums. It's doubtful there will be an album as compelling as Actor all year. Rating: 7/10