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

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Caroleen Beatty - You're Only as Pretty as You Feel – Some may recall Beatty from her association with Doug Hilsinger (both from the band Waycross), who created an excellent cover album of Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy (reviewed in...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues