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.