Stream: St. Vincent- Strange Mercy NPR's First Listen series offers a great way for fans to preview hyped albums before their release date--or before you download them. One of the latest additions to the series is Strange Mercy, the brand new LP from St. Vincent. Strange Mercy is the third release from this New York-based singer-songwriter, and probably her most accomplished. It's a more fleshed out work than her two previous LPs Marry Me and Actor, and finds frontwoman Annie Clark really coming into her own as a talented and versatile songwriter with a luminescent personality.
The distorted, occasionally overdriven snarl that constantly emanates from her guitar calls to mind PJ Harvey's 90s material, while her voice and melodic sensibilities recall the more recent work of the Dirty Projectors. Although the record is very catchy throughout, she manages this without ever settling for traditional pop structures or melodies. When she comes close, the results almost make me wish she did so more often. "Cruel" would be a banging pop song if it weren't for the intentionally sloppy-sounding guitar solo and the sporadic choir-like vocal segments, but this makes it even better and keeps the listener paying attention.
The opening trio of "Chloe In The Afternoon," "Cruel," and the surprisingly heavy "Cheerleader" packs a pretty big punch, and while the album feels a little top-heavy because of it, other moments make a pretty serious impact as well. The single "Surgeon" is a fuzz-washed slice of synth-laden art pop with great lyrics, and the understated closing track "Year Of The Tiger," which features some rare acoustic guitar playing, stands out at first and hits harder with each subsequent listen.
Strange Mercy will be streaming on NPR until its release date on September 13th. The album is available for pre-order from 4AD here.