Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Album review: Strange Mercy by St. Vincent
In short, this album satisfies.
Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, spent the last two years wisely, toiling away on a new album that shows conscious growth and further experimentation. The former
Booker T. Washington Lake Highlands student is known for her unpretentious style that mixes orchestral melodies with floating vocals. Although her roots stem from Polyphonic Spree -- the large, choir-like group also from Dallas -- her vision does not. Her newest record, Strange Mercy, released September 13, delves deeper into the busy world of stacked effects and instrumental manipulation.
Clark remains true to her voice, but still manages to twist her sound into something interesting enough for further review. “Champagne Year” sets a microscopic ear to her chords, taking away from the synth-based effects, which are usually mixed in enough to match her vocals. A cold echo of an electric guitar takes its place.
St. Vincent — “Cruel”
And the keys take a hit on this record, appearing very little compared to the guitar. This is St. Vincent's methodical way of varying just enough to move forward, yet not enough to evoke questions of intention.
Stuttering beats, fractured verses, and what sounds like a broken record of choruses will make for good remixes. “Surgeon,” the debut single, has already picked up a remix by Leann Grimes. “Dilettante” is another remixable tune.
St. Vincent recorded the album in Dallas and will be stopping through for two back-to-back shows at the Kessler Theater in late October. Tracks like “Northern Lights” and “Cruel” will do wonders onstage. Both songs kick up her usual mellow tempo, tricking the listener into thinking they’re might be a happy ending in sight. But the lyrics stay moody, just as they were in previous albums. “Cruel” brings in a melodramatic orchestral backdrop that mirrors 1930s cinematic soundtracks like Gone with the Wind.
Strange Mercy is yet another success for the keen artist, and it will keep fans guessing as to what her next step will be.