Last week I was reading Pitchfork, and noticed they had reviewed St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy, which was released last Tuesday. The actually gave it a 9/10. One shy from joining that group of perfect 10 artists like Wilco, Kayne, Radiohead, and few others.
In my opinion, Strange Mercy also deserved it.
Annie Clark returns to the music scene after a two-year hiatus following a hiatus from previous album, Actor. She came into this album after a difficult year with her family, which she used to channel the face of this album. As a result, it’s a little heavier in terms of sound in comparison to her previous albums. The harsh, electronic melodies combined with her delicate vocals are really perfect for each other, and ultimately gives us a product that is raw and relative.
Her lyrics are dark, telling us a story of sadness and depression. In the song “Surgeon”, the catchy chorus that you hear is “best finest surgeon/come cut me open.” To hear those words can make a person uncomfortable. However they walk hand in hand with the sound, each one depending equally on the other in order to get the life that is intended. The first single, “Cruel”, tells the story of a motherless family kidnapping her. She fails to live up to expectations, and ends up being buried in a shallow grave. These are not happy concepts, however combine this with the melodies that she uses and you get another amazing song.
So what is it about dark and twisted albums that make them so perfect? Listeners who have experienced their own dark and twisted moments can easily relate, which makes the album more meaningful. This combination is so productive in the therapeutic sense, because you know there is someone else out in this world that you can relate to. In that instance, you are no longer alone.
What happened to Strange Mercy is one of the reasons why I get disappointed whenever I read Pitchfork reviews. Do the artists who actually get the perfect coveted 10 deserve it? Some do. Am I going to ruffle feathers with bitching about Pitchfork? Possibly. However, there are artists out there who really deserve credit and St. Vincent does. In no way is there room for improvement on this album. Strange Mercy is a must have for anyone who listen to indie music. 10 years from now, it will still be amazing and relevant.
Seriously, you have to pick up this album. It’s that good.