St Vincent - Strange Mercy
- Stewart Smith
- 24 August 2011
Contemporary classicism with sharp beats, woozy synths and a personality of its own
Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, is an oddball pop whizz in the tradition of Kate Bush or Todd Rundgren, spinning gorgeous melodies from unconventional structures and inspired arrangements. Her voice is exquiste, but never merely pretty. Clark adapts it to each song, conveying a complex range of emotions: bitter and regretful, sensual and defiant.
Alternating between Wizard of Oz chorales and thumping earworm pop, ‘Cruel’ would be a sure-fire hit, were it not for its unsettling lyrics. ‘Surgeon’ begins as weary R&B, before erupting with a needling P-funk synth solo, while the title track is a stunning torch ballad. For all its classicism, Strange Mercy sounds utterly contemporary, with sharp beats, woozy synths and a personality of its own.