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Strange Mercy

58 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 13, 2011
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Frequently Bought Together

Strange Mercy + Actor + Marry Me
Price for all three: $36.97

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Editorial Reviews

St. Vincent, the nom-de-stage of "playful chanteuse [and] fearsome shredder" (NY Times) Annie Clark, releases her second album for 4AD, Strange Mercy. The record's 11 tracks showcase Clark's gift for fusing the cerebral and the visceral, her melodically elegant arrangements packing hefty emotional punches. Clark reunited with producer John Congleton and recorded the album in her hometown of Dallas, TX. Strange Mercy finds St. Vincent redefining the idea of the guitar hero, utilizing the instrument as a pointillist artist might wield a brush.

1. Chloe In The Afternoon
2. Cruel
3. Cheerleader
4. Surgeon
5. Northern Lights
6. Strange Mercy
7. Neutered Fruit
8. Champagne Year
9. Dilettante
10. Hysterical Strength
11. Year Of The Tiger

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 13, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 4ad Records
  • ASIN: B005775O5M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,845 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Paul M. Guyet on September 13, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I will freely admit that I hadn't heard of St. Vincent until the Onion's A.V. Club told me that her 2009 album, Actor, was good and that I should listen to it.
Since learning of and thoroughly enjoying that album, I have been eagerly awaiting Annie Clark's latest release, Strange Mercy.

At first listen, the lead single, "Cruel", struck me as a bit mainstream compared to the majority of the previous album, but after listening to it in the framework of the rest of the album as a whole, I began to understand that this was not the case at all.
Strange Mercy, while less dense and involved than Actor, has a wonderfully experimental quality to a lot of it, with Clark placing herself in situations we have yet to see, which is always exciting and refreshing.
While this album is the most sparse we've seen from her (I don't consider her first album, Marry Me, sparse so much as dull), the choice to not go with typical instrumentation really pays off and creates a unique sound.

One aspect of St. Vincent's music has not changed on Strange Mercy and that is her guitar which still sounds like it's made of wasps and Stylophones. It has the ability to shock its way through the dreamy vocals and syrupy keyboards and keep the attention of the listener.
The combination of the warm, soporific elements and the bracing, unflinching electricity is compelling.
Add on top of that Clark's malleable and incredibly expressive vocal style which can be as piping and sharp as Bjork (as on the album's trance-inducing opener, "Chloe In The Afternoon") and as smooth and smoky as Fiona Apple (as on the quiet, bitter "Champagne Year").
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Seth Mcarron on October 31, 2011
Format: Audio CD
For me, this might go down as the most delightful surprise of 2011. It's not that I had low expectations for this, St. Vincent's third LP. It's simply that I didn't have any expectations at all. I'm not unfamiliar with Annie Clark's body of work, I, along with many others got a hold of, and thoroughly enjoyed her 2009 sophomore effort Actor. It wasn't album of the year or anything, but it was definitely one of the more colorful outputs of that year. Wonderful art pop overflowing with lush instrumentation and overtly melodic sensibilities.

As eccentric and simply delightful as Actor is, Clark did lose something through all the orchestration and inventiveness of the music that she had a firm grip on on her debut LPMarry Me, that being ...herself. Throughout her debut she was consistently expressing herself, every instrument and note was there only to emphasize the duality, conflict and pure raw emotion within her own self. The music was very self contained and felt very much a part of Miss Clark, as if she were cutting herself open and handing you her body parts on demand. Whereas Actor finds her exploring texture and sounds for our ecstatic enjoyment (and wedid enjoy it), in retrospect it feels now like an album she simply needed to get out of the way in order to make Strange Mercy.

On this, Clark's third LP as St. Vincent, we find her with nigh perfect control over her music, now with an arsenal of tricks up her sleeve, every single track has an element of surprise. Although the instrumentation might not be as flashy as that on Actor, it feels more controlled, everything that needs to be there is there. That's not to say that the album has a minimalist approach, hardly. This is still very, very layered music with which one reaps the true rewards after multiple listens.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By thelackey3326 on November 7, 2012
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
The first I'd ever heard of St. Vincent was on the Austin City Limits show late one evening while flipping through the channels. What made me stop my channel surf was the way she played her guitar. I also loved her hair. The next night, I went to the place where everything lives--the Internet--and found her website. And very promptly bought both "Actor" and "Marry Me" on disc. Since I'm getting older now, I find that I keep a pretty short list of music that I listen to with any regularity. St. Vincent quickly found her way into the rotation. Naturally, when "Strange Mercy" was released, I couldn't contain my excitement and had to have it right away. On my first listen, though, I found that I wasn't immediately moved like with the other two. It wasn't disappointing at all. It just wasn't moving. At least, not at the time.

One day I was flying home from a trip and had some time to wait at the gate. I did what we all do nowadays. I put in my ear buds and began looking for something to listen to on my phone. A clear sign that I'm unavailable to talk to any strangers. And there it was, with that screaming mouth on the cover. "Okay," I thought, "St. Vincent deserves another try." So I cranked it up loud to let it permeate my noisy mind and saturate my world for even a while. And that's when I really heard the album for the first time. It was excellent. It was moving. Now that I think about it, I probably looked a little silly staring at the ceiling, grinning.

Most people have an expectation when they find a musician or band that they like. The expectation is for the music to reflect a signature sound from song to song, album to album. Human beings need to compartmentalize everything.
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