This is a review created largely on the behalf of Patrick, after relentless discussion on how much he loved this album and demand for me to listen to it and eventually come to review it. This album once again proves that... well, he doesn't exactly have a taste for anything that would appear on Radio 1 these days.
On listening to Strange Mercy, the third album from art rocker Annie Clark, under her performing moniker, St. Vincent, one is left with an ultimate feeling of blissful serenity and a little bit of enlightenment. The atmosphere created throughout this album is one that is very much chilled out and calming with the mass amounts of synthesizer backdrop creating a gentle and engaging soundscape, however the synthesizers provide much more than a simple backdrop. The synth is crucial in setting the tone for these songs. Be it in the pleasant and calming tone set in Surgeon or the contrasting unsettling and doom laden tone seen in Champagne Year.
The album doesn't really use guitar to provide a main sense of rhythm, instead using the guitar simply for a wide range of solos. When played, with it's warm and fuzzy distortion setting, manages to further characterize many of the songs. When Clark does use the guitar in a more rhythmic fashion, the overall effect is extreme and rampant with a somewhat grunge-inspired sound to the music. This is best demonstrated in Hysterical Strength featuring an outro with a sound similar to when Arcade Fire play a song with some aggression.
The gentle and pretty vocals of Clark are of course a marvel to listen to. Despite how relaxed and chilled out they sound, they still manage to remain incredibly captivating and if the song is bitter then you will definitely be able to identify it as soon as her vocals start, no matter how soft and sweet they may be.
And so all these elements manage to combine to create a very interesting and engaging. The music is chilled out but there's real thought put into it as well. So that was Strange Mercy by St. Vincent. Once again, Patrick loving this album proves that I don't have the most obscure music taste at school. Not by a long shot.
St. Vincent Strange Mercy is out now via 4AD. Clark will tour the UK in November.