What have the women of Sufjan Stevens’ band been smoking?

Last year, Shara Worden burst onto the scene as My Brightest Diamond, with such fierce imagination and spirit that you wondered how she could have possibly been anybody’s backup singer without blowing everybody else offstage. The debut, Bring Me the Workhorse, is still one of my favorite albums of the last few years.

And now we find out there were two of them.

Annie Clark, going as St. Vincent, put out Marry Me earlier this year, and it’s taken me a while to discover it. I’ve just come from the first trip through, and Marry Me is every bit as imaginative… and for my money, a heckuva lot more fun… than Bring Me the Workhorse.

I’ve only heard it once, mind you, but I’m riding the high of an art-pop overdose. Clark is equal parts Feist and PJ Harvey, Karen Bergquist and Kate Bush, and there’s even a touch of Billie Holliday in there (most evident in “What Me Worry?”)

Check this out before you go making any 2007 top ten lists, will you?

I’m already anxious to hear new albums from both Worden and Clark. I want to find out that they have the stamina and imagination to take us much farther, into places we’ve never been. I think back on Belly’s debut album Star, which was such a supernova of pop promise, and then the second album was a letdown, and then Belly burned out for good. I sincerely hope My Brightest Diamond and St. Vincent aren’t such fleeting delights.

And now to go and ponder the lyrics for a while…. I get the feeling there’s a lot going on here.

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