The beguiling strengths of Annie Clark's 2009 album 'Actor' quite swept me away. Wonderfully strange music from an idiosyncratic performer quite out on her own in the wild-woman-walking-on-the-left-hand-side-of- the-middle-of-the-the-road-stakes! A maker of magical sonic worlds quite unlike anything else out there. A truly talented maverick. ('Black Rainbow' still gives me the chills every time I listen to it!)
Her new album is no-less full of wonderment. 'Strange Mercy', her third release, drags us willingly back into familiar territory but there is a greater edge and power in these eleven songs than she has unleashed before. The opening track 'Chloe In The Afternoon' is a stunning outpouring of raw and unbridled energy. The savage guitar hits us in the solar plexus like a runaway bulldozer; the pounding drums a call to pagan worship and at its heart Ms Clarke's delicate and contrasting vocal delivery strives to find some kind of still centre in the chaos. A solid mass of contradictions.
Its polar opposite is the quite beautiful 'Champagne Year', a deeply affecting melody shot through with ethereal pedal-steel guitar, dark subterranean beats and glistening synth arpeggios. A web of enchantment.
Her pithy personal lyrical observations on 'Cheerleader' (a song about NOT wanting to be a cheerleader) mix pathos and dry humour in equal measure and final track 'Year Of The Tiger' struts and swaggers its stuff magnificently!
It is to the glorious invention 'Cruel' that we should turn, however, to encounter Ms Clarke's finest moment. The heavenly harmonies and blistering guitar frame a song of infectious and near-hysterical widescreen extravagance. Its sheer bravado made me laugh out loud. Three and a half minutes of pure joy!
'Strange Mercy' deserves our full attention and rapturous applause.
Quite simply, superb. The most inventive, interesting and surprising Lp I've heard this year. I'm a sucker for a good tune, and this Lp has plenty of those too. Like a more quirky, ballsy and melodic Joan Wasser. This has the feel of a tour de force album from start to finish.
Annie Clark strikes a downright divine balance between scornful rock squall and serenely sweet vocalizing. Her third album is her most mercurial yet, a dense clash of post-punk fuzz and baroque-pop rumination, with esoteric 'new elements, from atonal electro-jazz to synth scratches to cheeky talkbox. While she was charmingly fey on 2007 debut Marry Me [CD] and caustic on 2009 follow-up "Actor", she's introspective and fanciful here, crafting a single mother's lullaby on the title track, and repenting for her insecure past on "Cheerleader". Yet she's no passive pom-pom girl: Clark's complex femininity, both self-possessed and keenly evolving, is what makes her music so powerful and fascinating. S. Anderson
Showing quirky inventiveness and an ear for a good tune Annie Clark shepherds her third album into life and with its mix of guitar fuzz and breathy vocals it works its charm well.
Not everything is immediate here. On first listen Cheerleader sounds an odd choice for a single for example, but its chorus seems to lodge in your memory on repeated listens. Northern Lights sounds like it could be recorded in the eighties with guitar feedback to give it a more modern feel. Hysterical Strength starts like Talking Heads Crosseyed and Painless and then goes slightly more mainstream. Certainly you can hear their influences as well as Kate Bush and many others.
The lyrics are dark and the music stark. This really delivers a memorable suite of songs that are inventive enough to stand out and not too off the wall to alienate. Deservedly ending up on end of the year lists this is a solid offering that is well worth checking out.
Bought this, kind of on a whim, looking for something different...glad that I did. I know that I will totally hammer this as it is a instantly likeable, intriguing, mad, heavy, beautiful and unique album. I checked it out because of the, (admittedly), slim connection to Grizzly Bear. It didn't let me down.
In my opinion a more confident and more assertive tone to this offering than her previous albums but still with that unique ethereal sound that is St Vincent's trademark. Often understated, these tracks will haunt you long after listening - well worth the investment!