St. Vincent, 'Strange Mercy' (4AD)

9
Strange Mercy
Critical Mass
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Label: 4AD

by Stacey Anderson

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 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.

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