18
Sep
11

Review: Strange Mercy

Artist: St. Vincent

Album: Strange Mercy

 

Upon hearing Annie Clark’s latest work under the St. Vincent moniker, Strange Mercy, I was given pause.  Gone were the orchestral embellishments found on her previous album, Actor; I instead found funky synth work and an overall greater accessiblity.  In some cases the phrase “more accessible” is deemed as a negative, but that is not the case here.  The album is still largly experimental and quirky but in a way that better fits in the with the current dance beats and electronic leanings of current indie music.  Two years ago I would have found it almost impossible for St. Vincent to churn out a hard-churning funky number such as “Surgeon.”  Lead-single “Cruel” is the stuff that indie radio was made for with it’s catchy hooks and dance-like rythum, and yet in the song following it, “Cheerleader,” Clark sings, almost mournfully, “I don’t want to be a cheerleader no more.”

Strange Mercy is a sparser and more subtle album than Actor, and it is better for for it.  The loss of full orchestral sections has made room for a more accessible sound that comes off as much more confident.  It is a strange album, to be sure, but it is strange in a way that is easily palatable.  From now on, this is the St. Vincent album to beat.

4/5

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