Exposé Online banner

St Vincent — Strange Mercy
(4AD CAD 3123CD, 2011, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-04-01

Strange Mercy Cover artIn some ways Annie Clark's third album under the pseudonym St. Vincent is a close sibling to previous efforts (2007's Marry Me and 2009's Actor). Most notably, Clark still wraps herself in an alter ego of the demure girl-next-door with a cruel (sometimes violent) streak. Born out of period of enforced isolation in Seattle, the songs range from personal and introspective ("Year of the Tiger") to broadly observational ("Cheerleader"), but always with a thoroughly modern and feminine point of view. Speaking of modern, the musical arrangements supporting the songs have a distinctly 21st Century, electronic nature to them. In the studio, Clark teamed up with Beck's keyboardist/musical director Brian LeBarton and it shows. Analog synths are featured throughout the record, sometimes merely to provide texture ("Champagne Year") though more often than not they figure prominently, as with the fusion-y solo that caps off the perky single "Surgeon" (courtesy of gospel keyboardist Bobby Sparks). There's even some Eno-ish noise experiments as seen on "Northern Lights." In general, little effort has been made by the production team (headed by John Congleton) to give the listener a smooth ride. Instead, distortion is allowed to blanket everything except for Clark's femme fatale vocals. When paired with her biting guitar work the overall effect is both cathartic and confrontational, and not nearly as ear-friendly as her previous albums. Repeated listening helps to re-focus the ear on the heart and soul behind all the noise, and on that score Annie Clark still delivers the goods.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 40, 2011 releases

Related artist(s): St Vincent

More info
http://www.ilovestvincent.com

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Albert Marcoeur - L Apostrophe – With numerous albums out going back to the early 70s, Albert Marcoeur can always be counted on for something unusual, though he’s never predictable. On this, his ninth album in about 32 years, the...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues