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

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Mars Volta - De-loused in the Comatorium – The Mars Volta, on their full-length debut, joins Radiohead as a relatively high profile “alternative rock” group to flirt with progressive elements, and in fact does Radiohead one better (to the...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues