29-year-old Annie Clark, better known by her stage name St. Vincent, released her third album Strange Mercy last month, and has been generating a whole lot of praise ever since. Known mostly for her previous album, Actor, St. Vincent’s newest album continues her artistic evolution without sacrificing what made her stand out in the first place.
The Texas native attended Berklee College of Music, which doubtlessly influenced the expressive symphonic arrangements that fill and accentuate all three of her albums. Soon after dropping out, she gained prominence playing for the Polyphonic Spree and then Sufjan Steven’s touring band. Not content just staying in the background, though, she began a series of covers, including Nico’s “These Days” as well as The Beatles’s “I Dig a Pony”, all of which she included in her first album, Marry Me.
After her debut merited positive reviews, Ms. Clark’s fame truly rose upon the release of her second album, Actor, which was written entirely on Garageband. Expanding both her fan base and her musical palette, Actor launched St. Vincent onto an entirely new level. She expressed a darker side of her mind, balancing her beautiful voice with orchestral textures and a sense of queasiness. Clark, however, truly found her voice with the release of Strange Mercy.
This time around, she focuses less on the orchestral aspects of her work and more on her own emotions. Replacing the string and wind sections are visceral guitar solos and raw vocals. Singles such as “Cruel” and “Surgeon” are direct examples of this: both are simultaneously more accessible and experimental than her previous works. St. Vincent’s latest album’s success lies not only in her ability to create her own paradoxical world, but in her ability to relate her emotions to her audience: the listener feels as though they are experiencing everything as she sings about it.
Although she will continue to create her distinct brand of music, we will both enjoy Strange Mercy for quite awhile.
-Maxwell Weigel & Halley Furlong-Mitchell