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Boomkat Product Review:
Signing to 4AD having previously been a Sufjan Stevens cohort on the Asthmatic Kitty label, Annie Clark delivers a cracking sophomore LP here, honing the kind of production skills and songwriting quirks that made her debut album 'Marry Me' such a promising first outing. Although ostensibly an album in the singer-songwriter mold, Actor is also the work of a fine producer and electronic artist. One of the first things to strike you about this record is its combination of ornate multi-instrumental arrangements and elaborately choral layers with forceful beats - often coupled with waves of distortion. Recent single 'Actor Out Of Work' underlines this with its meeting of fuzzy, noise-soaked synthesizers and angelic harmonies, but 'Black Rainbow' takes that sound one step further, beginning with a highly sophisticated tangle of electronics, strings and woodwind only to ascend into a noisy, overdriven violin squeal by the close. The level of complexity and flamboyance in all departments is quietly rather breathtaking, and Clark manages to sound incredibly well-versed in all facets of her craft. Co-produced with John Congleton (an old pal from her Polyphonic Spree days) the album is boundlessly inventive and crammed with clever arrangements, tricky time signatures and the kind of baroque pop flourishes that you really couldn't imagine anyone else pulling off. More importantly than all that, Actor is a great collection of songs - with great singing to boot, and despite the relatively modest runtime of just under forty minutes it feels like there's an awful lot more music than that vacuum packed into this record. Highly recommended.