Strange Mercy - St. Vincent
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Sep 11, 2011
    100
    The modulations and switches in pace remain as bold as ever, and Clark has a knack for memorable melody and a winning voice with shades of Kate Bush and Leslie Feist.
  2. 100
    Her approach is confident and challenging, but not arch – several direct, haunting love songs are as delicate and affecting as any Adele tear-jerker.
  3. 91
    It's cerebral and a little chilly, but also full of musical surprises. [23 Sep 2011, p.79]
  4. Sep 13, 2011
    91
    While strings and horns occasionally creep in, Strange Mercy consistently makes do with little more than a conventional rock-band setup. All the better to display the record's rougher edges and willingness to let its mistakes show.
  5. Jan 3, 2012
    90
    St. Vincent's most sonically rich effort to date.
  6. 90
    Virtuosity and accessibility have never been easy bedfellows, but Strange Mercy is one of those rare albums that makes you think and makes you fall in love.
  7. Sep 13, 2011
    90
    Much like Actor, it's the contrast of tendernesses in both the red-raw and Elvis senses of the word, that marks St. Vincent's music out as something more sophisticated and enthralling than it might first appear.
  8. Sep 12, 2011
    90
    Here, Clark's role-playing is grounded in emotions that are as cryptic as they are genuine and affecting. And when her voice can't bear it, her guitar does the screaming.
  9. 90
    Strange Mercy is more mysterious than its predecessors, the references more obscure, but it also feels more personal.
  10. Sep 12, 2011
    90
    Like the best art, Strange Mercy lets you know that it means something, though what the point is is as much open to interpretation as it is a matter of its author's intentions, which is how it should be.
  11. 90
    With each album, her willingness to push the envelope in both halves of the equation grows, as if she trusts her audience to in turn trust her enough to follow her further along the path.
  12. Sep 8, 2011
    90
    Even if Strange Mercy is like a blender with its top blown off, it's undeniable how convincing St. Vincent has become.
  13. Sep 1, 2011
    90
    Here she simply stopped trying to impress and simply assembled through feel and intuition, and, taken as a whole, it feels perfect. [Jul 2011, p.82]
  14. Aug 26, 2011
    90
    Clark's complex femininity, both self-possessed and keenly evolving, is what makes her music so powerful and fascinating.
  15. Annie Clark stands out with her work because she is one of the few artists that can take something mournful and make it jarring yet angelic all at once.
  16. Sep 12, 2011
    88
    Strange Mercy resonates as a strangely moving album about resilience. It's as messy as life often can be, ugly and beautiful all at once.
  17. Sep 21, 2011
    87
    Strange Mercy is Clark's most tense, nauseous, kaleidoscopic album yet.
  18. Strange Mercy is the lonely next door neighbour who could be just as popular if only you took the time to get to know her. Instead she is left to turn introspectively, which might not produce quite so brilliantly chromatic stories, but they can be just as – if not more – compelling.
  19. Sep 23, 2011
    80
    If this all sounds sort of strange or back-handed, that can be attributed to the fact that Strange Mercy takes a few listens to grasp, and it makes the repeat visits enticing. And that's a sign of a strong album.
  20. Sep 22, 2011
    80
    Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is an astounding electric guitarist, yet on her absorbing third album she never puts her mastery of the instrument ahead of a great song.
  21. Sep 22, 2011
    80
    Uneasy listening from honey-tongued, dark-hearted singer.
  22. Sep 14, 2011
    80
    Full of great lyrics and great playing, Strange Mercy is St. Vincent's most reflective and most audacious album to date, and Clark remains as delicately uncompromising an artist as ever.
  23. Sep 13, 2011
    80
    The more Clark edits, the more she refines, the stronger St. Vincent becomes. At this point, it's just a matter of consistency.
  24. Sep 13, 2011
    80
    Strange Mercy is her best yet, a deft mixture of self-confession, master class musicality, and downright unshakable songs.
  25. Sep 13, 2011
    80
    St. Vincent reaches, and while she doesn't quite find it throughout, listening to the reach is certainly more interesting than listening to an album that answers just one of the questions again and again and again.
  26. Sep 12, 2011
    80
    It may not be leaps and bounds ahead of previous St Vincent releases, but this is a rich and multi-faceted album to pay close attention to.
  27. Sep 12, 2011
    80
    Yet, far from a liability, Clark's bare, sedate St. Vincent persona is the highlight of Strange Mercy, reflecting all the terror, beauty, and allure of her music more effectively than any cantakerous narrator could muster.
  28. Sep 9, 2011
    80
    It's a little top-heavy, and meanders towards the end, but it's smart, demanding and unique, too.
  29. Sep 8, 2011
    80
    Strange Mercy is the shimmering, expansive sound of an artist defiantly coming into her own. [Oct 2011, p.104]
  30. Sep 6, 2011
    80
    A fabulous album, confirming St. Vincent's status as a deeply talented artist.
  31. Sep 15, 2011
    78
    The back end fades, but with Strange Mercy, St. Vincent masters the art of grin and bear it.
  32. Sep 13, 2011
    75
    Strange Mercy becomes more intriguing the more you listen to it--even if that means you also get further away from comprehending its idiosyncrasy.
  33. Sep 14, 2011
    70
    Crucially, her sense of humour remains intact, sharp and lethal – the sweet laments carried by her increasingly accomplished voice feel often to be one step away from, not laughter exactly, but self-deprecation, or a mordant smile at her own expense.
  34. Sep 12, 2011
    70
    Strange Mercy is visceral, vivid stuff: When Clark announces, amid a Roxy Music-style glam racket, that she's seen the northern lights ("Northern Lights"), you'll swear you can see them too.
  35. Sep 11, 2011
    70
    As advertised, Strange Mercy lets us off more easily than it should, but without the promised strangeness.
  36. Sep 13, 2011
    63
    On her third work, Strange Mercy, her facility with song craft is no less compelling for its cerebral beauty, but too often that cool, constructed quality stands between its maker and the wild bramble of the song.
  37. Dec 6, 2011
    60
    Musically, in other words, Strange Mercy delivers plenty of interest. What's not so convincing is the songwriting, specifically the lyrics. [Oct 2011, p.60]
  38. 60
    For her third album as St. Vincent, Annie Clark has jettisoned the baroque string and woodwind arrangements that marked 2009's Actor, in favour of more direct, guitar-based settings.
  39. Sep 1, 2011
    60
    Ultimately Strange Mercy sounds like her best record still lies ahead, once she feels a little more at ease with balancing her obviously multiple talents.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 101 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Sep 21, 2011
    10
    This album has the precision of a surgeon and the cruelness of a puppy. All the experimentation and blips and dissonance, it works out so damn well! Strange Mercy simply one of the best, if not, the best pop albums of 2011. I am in love with this. Full Review »
  2. Sep 14, 2011
    10
    Annie Clark's musical evolution takes its next big step delivering one of the year's best albums yet -- a thrilling,intense yet deeply personal collection of songs that develop on musical and lyrical concepts she has dabbled with on her previous works.
    The musical sophistication on the album is apparent right from "Chloe in the Afternoon" with rough guitars co-operating in tune with her choir-like vocals. "Cheerleader" possibly her most personal song lyrically sees her sick and tired of being at the sidelines and states her independence with a defiant " I...I...I" beat in the song.
    "Surgeon" might be her most sophisticated work having an oft-kilter guitar hook in the middle that is catchy. As she evolves as a songwriter,singer and composer she also develops in unique way as a guitarist. She has a very unique way of treating the instrument often caressing it on songs to produce deep,soulful melodies but can strangle her guitar to produce jarring rough solos that are as memorable as the music in this album.

    A top contender for the album of the year! "Strange Mercy" sees the one of the better solo artists in the indie scene realize the immense scope of her true potential. This might just be the beginning but what a beginning it really is.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 8, 2012
    10
    In her own words, Annie Clark said this album was wirtten in a solitude moment of her life, and it sounds very personal. It's like she put all of her thoughts about life itself in this album, and they seem to be brilliant. She left behind the experimental/baroque sound of "Actor", and gave us a different kind of pop, mixed with folk. It is one of the marvelous CDs from last year. Full Review »