The Pick: St. Vincent, an indie act that cuts through the preciousness
Pop music has no shortage of ethereal female singer-songwriters, but none cut through the preciousness quite like St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, who performs this week at the Phoenix. Like her elfin counterparts, there’s something alien and inaccessible about her. Sometimes it feels like she’s on the other side of a wall, but her latest album plays on that faraway sound, burying images of tangible cruelty and grit within its layered orchestrations.
Clark, who has been recording under the moniker since 2007, has a heavenly voice—a little deep, but clear and silvery—and her orchestrations are lush, but her sound is steeped in minor keys and counterintuitive melodies that teeter on the brink of madness. Her first two albums had a polished, frosty veneer that beckons to the listener before leaving them cold and alienated. She’s much more vulnerable on her newest record, Strange Mercy, whose songs are populated with images of violence, pain and carnality. On “Cheerleader,” she croons, “I’ve had good times with some bad guys, I’ve told whole lies with a half-smile/Held your bare bones with my clothes on, I’ve thrown rocks that hit both my arms,” before exploding in the chorus: “But I—I—I—I—I don’t wanna be a cheerleader no more.” The unsettling images rub up against the music box melodies and Clark’s sweet voice, leaving behind a shiver of aural cognitive dissonance.
The details: Dec. 15, 8 p.m. $20. 410 Sherbourne St., phoenixconcerttheatre.com.