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

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Pinnacle - Meld – Heck, any band that gives thanks to "the spectacular Eliza Dushku for inspiration" deserves the benefit of the doubt, don't they? This American three-piece treads some familiar ground — the...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues