Though diminutive with a head full of soft curls, Annie Clark's third album under her musical act, St. Vincent, is powerful, belying her china doll appearance and demure presence. The 28-year-old's latest outing, Strange Mercy, is a pop album for patient ears. Though melodic and lyrical, it's also jagged and angular, thanks to her unique, anxious guitar playing and eclectic instrumentation. The single "Cruel" is hauntingly catchy, and like most of the songs on Strange Mercy, it strikes a balance between power and grace, dark and light, beautiful and ugly. On "Northern Lights," she sings: "Gotta get young fast gotta get young quick/ Gotta make this last if it makes me sick." It is this sense of urgency that permeates the words and notes of this album.
Listening to Strange Mercy is like shining a flashlight through a dark room -- the path isn't always clear, but you'll eventually find what you're looking for.