Comes the music video for Cheerleader from the album Strange Mercy by Annie Clark, or as the music world would know her…St. Vincent. The Dallas-bred, New York City-based artist, and former member of The Polyphonic Spree, with this album, assembles an emotionally complex, musically layered collection of songs. It is almost expected from a vocalist, songwriter and guitarist as musically gifted as she is. Each song, like Cheerleader, capriciously swings from gleeful to manic within a sweeping gesture; jarring and submitting the listeners into full attention.

Her sonic pieces read like unpredictable cinema. It’s genuine artistry that’s happening here. It’s as if we’re privy to her craft and are reminded of how music is not just merely a medium or something that may be born out of commerce but it can be, and is…art. That’s how it should be, right? One gets the sense she is conscious of the manner in which her soundscapes, oeuvre, and musical life evolve. The rangy works not only make her musically sentient and emotionally present, it equally establishes herself as an original innovator.

Clark has recruited director Hiro Murai to compliment her unique, memorable sounds with beautiful and haunting imagery. In the video, St. Vincent immerses herself in hyper-emo symbolism. It begins with a reveal of the singer, nearly catatonic, which unfolds to the revelation that the singer is a large sculpture or museum display piece. This is reminiscent of the eerie models of realistic large-scale human subjects by Australian artist, Ron Mueck. She’s a prisoner of sorts, being observed and ogled by patrons; she is raised, busts free and literally breaks apart. It’s not subtle imagery, it’s blatant and dramatic.

Some sublime work is happening here.

Also, view the music video for Cruel (below), which is just as uncanny and introspective (musically and visually). There is a convergent theme that is surfacing.

@teemunny

Strange Mercy, the beguiling new album from St. Vincent, is an unsparing examination of personal catharsis cloaked in some of the most sublime music of Annie Clark’s career.

Many of the songs are about wanting relief from pain, and searching high and low for release,” attests Clark. Such powerful emotions prompted — demanded, really — not just a bracingly candid lyrical style but a new musical approach.

Strange Mercy features very little of the baroque strings, woodwinds, and reeds that marked Actor, and the grooves are sturdy, deep and beguiling. “I wanted to make things direct and immediate,” Clark says. “I didn’t tinker. I tried to keep the arrangements pretty simple and use just enough instrumentation to get the point across. I didn’t want anything to get in the way.” Consequently, it’s a much more guitar-oriented album than Clark has ever made.

The aqueous confessional Cheerleader is the thematic touchstone; Clark is just not going to politely mince words (or sounds) anymore.


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