Actor (album)

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St. Vincent - Actor.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 4, 2009
St. Vincent chronology
Marry Me
Strange Mercy
Singles from Actor
  1. "Actor out of Work"
    Released: April 20, 2009
  2. "Marrow"
    Released: November 2, 2009

Actor is the second album by musician St. Vincent, released by 4AD on May 4, 2009, in the United Kingdom and a day later in the United States. The first single released was "Actor out of Work" that April.[7] Annie Clark was influenced by scores to films by Disney and Woody Allen.[8] To prevent writer's block, Clark watched films without the sound and composed music for her favorite scenes.[9] After arranging the music using GarageBand, she then wrote lyrics and added gentle vocal melodies.[8]

The music video for "Actor out of Work" was premiered April 10, 2009 on Spinner.[8] In it, Clark auditions a series of actors who begin sobbing in front of her.[10] The video for "Laughing with a Mouth of Blood" features Clark with comedy duo ThunderAnt as owners of a feminist bookstore.[11]


"This was the first record I worked on with John Congleton. I started it with another producer, but things just went horribly wrong so I called John. I'd spent a long, long time on all of these tracks, all of these beautiful wind and string passages that I was trying to make into songs. I called John and said, 'You know what? I think I need to try again with these songs… I think that if I'm not careful, I'll be making the soundtrack to The Lion King, so can we just rethink this?' I went in and basically re-recorded everything but the wind and strings. It was definitely an eleventh-hour thing, with John and I together in the studio saving the record. When I was writing it, I was watching a lot of films – Disney films from the '30s and '40s. I was going for Technicolor on that record, and luckily we saved it from being the last record I ever made. The way it had been going, I'm not sure if anyone would've given it a listen. John's sonic power is strong and contagious – and, because we were already friends, I felt very comfortable with him. We were able to go about making a record with no ego or strange human relationships. We could be clearheaded about the songs and the best way to present them with the arrangements." – Annie Clark[12]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[14]
The A.V. ClubA−[15]
Blender4/5 stars[16]
Entertainment WeeklyA[17]
Q3/5 stars[20]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[21]
Uncut4/5 stars[23]

The album received wide critical acclaim.[13] In the 2009 Pazz & Jop albums survey, Actor ranked twelfth,[24] and most of the songs on it received mentions for the singles survey.[25] Pitchfork gave the album an 8.5/10 rating and a "Best New Music" tag, praising the concept and describing the sound as "melodic and controlled, conjuring abrasive textures that nevertheless have a clean, meticulous quality that complements her immaculate arrangements."[19] It later placed Actor number 13 on its year-end list of albums,[26] and "Actor out of Work" ranked number 52 on its list of the year's top tracks.[27] Pitchfork included "The Strangers" at number 492 on its list of the top tracks of the 2000s.[28]

The A.V. Club's review called the album a departure from St. Vincent's debut, noting an absence of "the coy, conventional pop winks of Marry Me; even Actor's lovelier moments come tinged with down-the-rabbit-hole danger." Clark has "found her own voice—and it's one you wouldn't want reading your kids any bedtime stories."[15]

Other reviewers, such as Entertainment Weekly and AllMusic, praised the album's contrast of melodic pop and distorted guitars with dark lyrics. PopMatters listed Actor number 26 on its list of the year's best albums.[29]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written and arranged by Annie Clark.

1."The Strangers"4:05
2."Save Me from What I Want"3:35
3."The Neighbors"3:31
4."Actor out of Work"2:15
5."Black Rainbow"4:11
6."Laughing with a Mouth of Blood"3:02
8."The Bed"3:43
9."The Party"4:05
10."Just the Same but Brand New"5:24
11."The Sequel"1:54
Total length:39:05


  • On the album’s vinyl release, “The Sequel is moved to the end of side A, following “Black Rainbow”.




  • John Congleton – production, recording, mixing
  • Annie Clark – production, additional recording
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Scott Solter – additional recording
  • Annabel Mehran – photography
  • Lever and Beam – management


Chart (2009) Peak
UK Albums Chart[30] 161
U.S. Billboard 200[31] 90
U.S. Alternative Albums[31] 20
U.S. Independent Albums[31] 9
U.S. Rock Albums[32] 48

Commercial performance[edit]

As of July 2011, Actor has sold 59,000 copies in US.[33]


  1. ^ "St. Vincent, 'Actor' (4AD)". Spin. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  2. ^ "St. Vincent - Strange Mercy". Clash. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  3. ^ "St. Vincent, 'Actor'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  4. ^ "St. Vincent Strange Mercy". Slant. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Album review: St Vincent". NME. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  6. ^ "St. Vincent: Strange Mercy (4AD)". Under The Radar. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  7. ^ "St. Vincent Announces New Album: Actor". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
  8. ^ a b c Ayers, Michael D. (April 22, 2009). "Acting Out". Billboard. 121 (16). Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  9. ^ Rao, Priya (April 20, 2009). "St. Vincent's Grand Ambitions". Women's Wear Daily. 197 (83). Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  10. ^ Ryzik, Melena (May 7, 2009). "I Like Things That Are Unsettling". The New York Times: C1. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  11. ^ Baron, Zach (February 4, 2010). "New St. Vincent Video: 'Laughing With a Mouth of Blood,' Featuring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  12. ^ Pinnock, Tom (January 2015). "Album by Album: St Vincent". Uncut: 54.
  13. ^ a b "Reviews for Actor by St. Vincent". Metacritic. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  14. ^ Phares, Heather. "Actor – St. Vincent". AllMusic. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  15. ^ a b O'Neal, Sean (May 5, 2009). "St. Vincent: Actor". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  16. ^ Eells, Josh. "St. Vincent: Actor". Blender. Archived from the original on May 1, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  17. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (May 6, 2009). "Actor". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  18. ^ Mackay, Emily (April 28, 2009). "Album review: St Vincent". NME. Archived from the original on June 23, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  19. ^ a b Perpetua, Matthew (May 5, 2009). "St. Vincent: Actor". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  20. ^ "St. Vincent: Actor". Q (275): 131. June 2009.
  21. ^ Rosen, Jody (May 1, 2009). "Actor : St. Vincent". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 9, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  22. ^ Suarez, Jessica (May 2009). "Dark Sweet Lady". Spin. 25 (5): 92. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  23. ^ "St. Vincent: Actor". Uncut (145): 103. June 2009.
  24. ^ "New York Pazz And Jop Albums". The Village Voice. 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  25. ^ "New York Pazz And Jop Singles". The Village Voice. 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  26. ^ Klein, Josh (December 17, 2009). "The Top 50 Albums of 2009". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  27. ^ Wolk, Douglas (December 14, 2009). "The Top 100 Tracks of 2009". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  28. ^ "The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s: 500-201". Pitchfork. August 17, 2009. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  29. ^ Huff, Quentin (December 17, 2009). "The Best 60 Albums of 2009". PopMatters. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  30. ^ Chart Log UK – Chart Coverage and Record Sales 2009 and Special Single-File Version. Retrieved on 2010-11-30.
  31. ^ a b c St. Vincent,, May 23, 2009
  32. ^ St. Vincent,, May 23, 2009
  33. ^ "Most Anticipated". Billboard. Billboard. 30 July 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2018.

External links[edit]

Actor at MusicBrainz (list of releases)