Strange Mercy – St. Vincent

There’s a beauty in sounding broken. These days no one can touch St. Vincent’s Annie Clark when it comes to sounding simultaneously ethereal and mentally wrecked. Strange Mercy finds St. Vincent more sonically twisted than ever; still searching for a calm clarity in this mad, mad world.

Themes of feeling unloved and neglected dominate the album. Downtrodden lyrics abound, like those found on “Cruel”: “They could take you or leave you. So they took you. Then they left you. How could they be so casually cruel?” “Neutered Fruit” finds Clark questioning “Did you ever really stare at me? Like I stared at you.” But that’s not to say St. Vincent simply plays the victim. When pushed, like on “Cheerleader,” Clark’s tongue can be as defiantly cutting and vicious as it is insecure and vulnerable, declaring “I-I-I-I-I don’t want to be your cheerleader no more.”

Music supporting Clark’s vocals on Strange Mercy is a full-fledged wall of chaotic electronic fuzz. While these moments spotted previous St. Vincent albums, they’re consistent here. Lush orchestrations still pop up now and then, but they’re usually momentary; like on the intro to “Cruel,” before the song suddenly shifts into a thumping, club-worthy dance track. Continue reading