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Strange Mercy CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Sept. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: 4AD
  • ASIN: B005775O5M
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,041 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

titolo-strange mercyartista-st. vincent etichetta-4ad-n. dischi1data-20 settembre 2011supporto-cd audiogenere-pop e rock internazionale---brani1.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

BBC Review

With the critical mass now in her favour, a commercial breakthrough seems inevitable for St. Vincent, known otherwise as Annie Clark: poster girl for indie rock, former member of Sufjan Stevens' touring band, beloved of Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear and Andrew Bird. Her two previous albums have revealed an intelligent, offbeat but charming talent, and her live performances - both with a band and solo, surrounded by loops stations and echo boxes - have proven her an impressive musician. Furthermore, her feminine side is matched by an ability to play the boys at their own game - her recent virtuoso live cover of Big Black's Kerosene sees her shred as effectively as anyone - rendering redundant lazy comparisons with the traditional canon of female performers.

Strange Mercy, however, is a little underwhelming, full of ideas but struggling to find a coherent voice. Her charismatic performances still exhibit the trademark confidence that makes her so intriguing, but the album's songwriting fails to deliver a standout track like Actor Out of Work or the eccentric, disorientating Marrow (both from 2009's Actor). There are flashes of brilliance throughout, but opening track Chloe in the Afternoon - in which guitars crunch against woozy fairground keyboards and a stuttering, programmed beat until Clark attempts clumsily to cram the song's title into the chorus - does her no favours.

This is especially frustrating when she follows it with Cruel, a far more rounded, melodious track full of Disney-esque strings, galloping but simple rhythms, fuzzily ripped guitar lines and Clark's tender but never reticent vocals. Northern Lights is grittier, guitars grating against a persistent snare tattoo, Vincent's vocals heading into ethereal realms as noise bursts around her, while Hysterical Strength further confirms her instrumental prowess. Surgeon, too - which opens with a tip of the hat to John Barry's You Only Live Twice - is a moody and atmospheric song that takes unexpected turns, especially its weird foray into the kind of synth-pop perfected by Wally Badarou in the 1980s.

But throughout there's a distance between performer and audience: despite being teased by notable lines like "I don't want to be a cheerleader no more", "If I ever meet the dirty policeman who roughed you up" and 'Oh, America, can I owe you one?" it's hard not to feel cheated by irritatingly impenetrable lyrics like "By your heel heal my hurt horse hair whip be your floor", as though she daren't let us get too close. Champagne (with its melodic reference to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah) and Year of the Tiger prove that she can be smart as well as approachable, but ultimately Strange Mercy sounds like her best record still lies ahead, once she feels a little more at ease with balancing her obviously multiple talents.

--Wyndham Wallace

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Sept. 2011
Format: Audio CD
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.

Highly Recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
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
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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By Syriat TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
This is my second St. Vincent album I have bought, I first bought "St. Vincent" the album which I would give 5 stars to, as I loved every track on it. This album "Strange Mercy" takes a bit of getting used to, as I recognize the first few tracks and "year of the tiger" but find some of the other album tracks a bit hard to get used to, but I'll give it time. I'm looking forward to seeing St Vincent in Gateshead this August, if you can't catch her get thes 2albums :-)
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
This album is Annie Clark's most minimalist album. She ditched the rich and thick sound you can find on 'Actor' and 'Marry Me' for a simple more empty sound... but it works! The album is incredibly consistent thematically and in sound, the album is overflowing with incredible guitar riffs and electronic sounds, noise, grime and rhythm. It's short and sweet and doesn't feel like it overstays its welcome. Expect more sinister lyrics and dark undertones topped with synths and heavy, loud drum beats. By far her most aggressive album.

Funky and stylish but also sinister. The Vinyl version quite cleverly comes with a download code for a digital version so you can keep this masterpiece on your MP3 player ect. And also the vinyl disk for this album is white which looks rather lovely.
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Format: Audio CD
lovely tunes lovely voice interesting spikey bits mixed in
didn't know what to expect
bought it largely on the basis she'd sang with the polyphonic spree
real surprise and listened to it most days since purchasing it
sometimes it reminds me of joan as policewoman's best bits
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