St. Lucia: “Matter”


St. Lucia


[Columbia, 2016]

by Victoria Grijalva

St. Lucia’s Matter brings with it all the optimism, earnest, and brightness that one would expect from the over-indulgent tones of synth-pop, making this one of the few albums willing to present us with the full sweetness of what once was 80s pop mixed with modern house music full of slick tones.

The album begins with a strong drumbeat and synthesizers at full blast followed by St. Lucia’s characteristic synth beats in “Do You Remember”. The catchy chorus refuses to compete with the strong synth-pop sound, instead opting to complement the strength of the sound, with few easily-remembered lines. It provides one of the greatest lead tracks in recent albums, letting you know exactly what it is you’re getting yourself into.

Matter follows this up with “Home,” which can be best described as the grooviest track on the album. Solely judging by its sound, this is a song that could be the final track of a grand 80’s movie a la Pretty in Pink or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is definitely a song that requires you to dance as it plays. The vocals on this track are also some of the most consistent throughout the entire album.

“Dancing on Glass,” is THE track of the album. While all the other tracks place a magnifying glass on the 80’s feelings, extra energy, and exorbitant amounts of candied synth-pop beats, “Dancing on Glass” takes a much more subtle approach. It has all the strength that classic St. Lucia songs have without exceeding on the grandiose sweet pop of the rest of the album.

Matter takes a sharp transition into “Physical” with its extremely upbeat dance tunes and its non-stop energy. The track continues to build up, constantly keeping the listener pumped up every second. In fact, the song doesn’t give the listener a chance to stop and rest until the very last few seconds.

Another track that consists of a build-up is “Game 4 U”. There is no other track that requires as much finger-snapping as this one does. It’s also further proof of the consistency and confidence of the vocals in this album as compared to previous samples. “Game 4 U” is all about singing along, swaying in time to the beat, and snapping your fingers to truly have the full experience of the song.

“The Winds of Change” presents us with a title of a song that is both fitting and ironic, for it brings attention to the change from the more relaxed sounds of St. Lucia’s initial music to Matter, where St. Lucia does anything but hold back from the sweet pop essence of the 80’s. This track, however, provides one of the less intense sounds on the album. It channels the strength of St. Lucia’s past sounds with a build-up of sounds, each of them more grand than the last. It provides a nice break in the middle of the album, where we can finally take a break from all the energy Matter has without losing any momentum.

“Love Somebody” gives us a rest after the constant energy throughout the majority of the album so far. It continues with a bit of wind-down that “The Winds of Change” began in the previous track. While the rest of Matter is synth-pop through and through, “Love Somebody” has an R&B feel to it, continuing what “Dancing on Glass” started with the softer, smoother tones and stripping back to what made St. Lucia a musical trademark initially.

When it comes to “Rescue Me,” the track feels as though there’s no beginning or end to it. The consistent beat it begins with courses through the entirety of the song, adding staples of famous 80’s songs. The sound feels as though it’s hypnotizing its listener, especially when the vocals don’t aim high. Another song full of energy, it hardly gives the listener a chance to soak it in before it’s on to the next one.

The build-up in “Stay” with the beats becoming stronger and stronger as the seconds pass by creates the expectation of a sound explosion, just like the rest of Matter, but instead St. Lucia opts for a subtle continuation of momentum with a strong chorus. The well-timed “Why won’t you/why won’t you stay with me now?” to the drum beats allows for a nice transition within the track, breaking us out of the consistent initial sound.

Next comes another sharp transition in “Help Me Run Away” with what has become the staple of the album – beats that begin at their full strength and refuse to ease up. This track also feels like one that would easily belong in an 80’s movie sequence. You can’t help but dance and move around to the beat, getting us closer to the final note of the album.

As a closer, “Always” manages to bring in the undoubtedly strong synth-pop beats featured throughout the album, with the almost anthem-like choruses, and consistent vocals. “Always” accomplished to wrap up the album in nearly a summary of the album without becoming an extremely cheesy 80’s song. It includes everything that makes the album shine and shows that St. Lucia has definitely found its sound.

While the album is not a model example in lyric, the sound overcompensates for it. If there was ever an album manifestation of the word “shimmery”, Matter would be it. All in all, the album is a never-ending stream of energy and optimism, with all the strength of 80’s sweet pop.