St Vincent - Strange Mercy (4 stars)

Contemporary classicism with sharp beats, woozy synths and a personality of its own

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The Rapture - In the Grace of Your Love

(4AD)

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.

St Vincent - Strange Mercy Teaser 1

St Vincent - Strange Mercy Teaser 2

St Vincent - Strange Mercy Teaser 3

Surgeon - St. Vincent

Watch Annie Clark - aka St. Vincent - perform 'Cruel' on the Late Show with David Letterman

St. Vincent

Sublime sounds from the Kate Bush-like St Vincent, aka former Polyphonic Spree/Sufjan Stevens guitarist Annie Clark.

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