Judging on looks alone, Annie Clark looks about as fierce as a mouse. Clark, who goes by the musical moniker St. Vincent, is short in stature, with cute, modest features, and the sort of sweet curly black hair that brings to mind a more innocent time. But as clichéd as it is, appearances can be deceiving, which couldn’t be more of the case when it comes to Ms. Clark.
While on the surface, St. Vincent’s voice is beautiful in a very theatrical way, her music suggests something foul is brewing underneath. On her shining debut, Marry Me, this was displayed a little more subtly with the occasional minor key or distorted guitar on her otherwise tender, quirky ballads, but on her second album, Actor, the darkness began to bubble up with tons of distorted guitar and dark lyrical undertones, especially on album standouts “The Strangers” and “Marrow”. Now, on her latest release and finest album to date, Strange Mercy, the grunginess can no longer be tamed behind the sweet veneer and has become fully realized, creating some brilliant results.
“Choe In The Afternoon” makes for an remarkably claustrophobic opening with its spacy atmospherics and off-kilter fuzz guitar, sounding like Bjork hiding out from robot zombies. Annie Clark spent time in the touring bands for both cultish pop collective Polyphonic Spree and folk prodigy Sufjan Stevens, but now more than ever, she sounds ready to take center stage. “Cheerleader” suggests just that, with Clark angstily announcing “I don’t want to be a Cheeleader no more”, confidently over punching guitars and deep moog synths.
With Strange Mercy, St. Vincent has crafted such wildly creative music that remains planted in classic pop song structures that few others have done with such brilliance. Strange Mercy is a loud, thrilling pop ride with serious bite, making it one of the best albums of 2011.
Can’t Miss: “Dilettante”, “Northern Lights”, “Surgeon”
Can’t Hit: None
To see the full review, go to RELEVANT Magazine.