CD Review: St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

I love days like today. New music abounds, blu-ray releases are all over the place … and I get to listen to the new St. Vincent CD. Sweet lemonade in ice form–the girl’s gone and done it again.

When last we left our ravenous NYC brunette, she had left us reeling from her at-the-time most recent release of Actor. A venerable tour de force of layered electronica and pscyho-blazing instrumentation, mixed with her searing and smoldering vocals.

2 months shy of 2.5 years have come and gone. The Packers have returned to the top of the NFL, the Bruins, Blackhawks and Penguins all won Stanely Cups, I got a new 58″ plasma TV, and I have worked in 3 different positions. In relative terms, it’s only been a short while. However, when it comes to music of Annie’s quality and talent, 2 and third years might as well seem like  an entire millenium.

Usher in the newest epoch of St. Vincent music. We may now add to her illustrious timeline a new achievment–Strange Mercy. Feel free to thank your lucky stars. Or, better yet, thank her yourself. Of course, this is just my opinion, and you’re welcome to agree or disagree, but I think this is her strongest work. Very personal, very emotionally evocative.

One of the stand-out tracks for me is “Cruel.” The juxtaposition of up-beat, dancy music with the depressing lyrics caught me really off-guard. Reminds me of 9o% of The Smiths discography. 🙂  “Hi, I’m alive. Does anyone notice? Care?” Apparently not–not even with flares waving. Yah. Upbeat music, tragic lyrics. Sad.

The next track immediately after “Cruel” is “Cheerleader.” It kind of grabs me as someone who loves her land, but is tired of trying to play the apologist. On a more “in the weeds” analysis, it also strikes me as someone who is tired of people milking tragedy for everything they can, be that sympathy, financial gain, or whatever. But musically, it’s just great. “I-I-I-I-I don’t want to be a cheerleader no more …” which repeats a couple of times. On each “I,” there’s this off-key keyboard sound that’s absolutely beautiful in its dissonance. Great.

Big fan of “Champagne Year,” too. A little more minimalist start on this track. Some bass drum samples, some synth, and Ms. St. Vincente’s sultry intoxicating vocals dangling on the edge of sadness. The track evolves into some very Sarah Fimm-style music and vocals. For anyone who’s read my take on Sarah Fimm’s music, See what I mean?

The best news about this CD release is that she’s going on tour, with a date in SLC at the Urban Lounge on October 11th. Pretty good place to catch her live. Small, intimate place, no bad seat in the place … yah. That’ll be a great show.

So yah. Time to get out and buy this. Or sit at your desk and download it from iTunes. or … from your phone ….. sheesh. Is there any place left where you can’t get new music anymore?! Well whatever your outlet of choice is, go get this immediately and improve your quality of life. GO! NOW!!

 

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