The album replaces some of the more electronic sounds of her previous albums with guitar-driven melodies and plenty of distortion, giving her sound a greater rock intensity. With tracks like "Cruel," which features riff-based instrumentation that is highlighted by long vocal breaks, St. Vincent creates an upbeat and lively brand of rock.
Despite the more direct role of the guitar, however, her airy vocals remain at the forefront throughout the album. The hauntingly beautiful tone of her voice gives her music an otherworldly feel beyond most pop vocalists. She not only possesses an unconventional sound, but also an astounding vocal range and sense of control. When she strips away the instrumentals on "Champagne Year," the listener is captivated by the purity of her voice.
The diverse sound of the tracks on this release create an intriguing work, moving from the sometimes melancholy ballads to the lively pop songs we have come to expect from Annie Clark. "Strange Mercy" demonstrates an evolution of St. Vincent's sound and a broad range of musical abilities.
On the KDHX Charts: #4 on CMJ for September 13, 2011.