Annie Clark’s third album is not only her best yet, but her most beguiling too. Touching on the sheer weirdness that started creeping out of Brit-rock in the late ’60s (Bowie, Abbey Road-era Beatles) and combining it with the same ‘anything goes’ sensibilities of Kurt Vile and Ariel Pink, she’s become a siren for intelligent, pure alt-rock. And while on the face of it melody appears to be king, listen a little closer and you’ll find ‘Strange Mercy’ to be an album stuffed full of insecurity, depression and break-up blues. Yet it doesn’t sound that way.
It sounds fun, addictive and just a little bit like Blondie playing at being Arcade Fire. Clark is arguably the most freaky guitarist since Jack White right now, and the fact that this album managed to crack the US Top 20 signals her arrival in the big time. That alone should be major cause for celebration. MW
NME: Which song are you proudest of?
“I’m always partial to the stranger songs, they’re more fulfilling to me. I love ‘Strange Mercy’, the song, and I’m really partial to ‘Chloe In The Afternoon’, because it’s quite strange. I like the textures and the syncopation in that song so much, I’m very fond of it, and of playing it. With ‘Chloe…’ it needed to sound breathless, right, because it’s a song about sex, so it needed to sound high and breathless. It just didn’t make sense in my brain any other way! So I had to sing it just a little too high…!”
Is there anything you’d change about the record?
“No! There’s nothing I would do different about that record – whatever I would do differently I will do on the next record! It’s a learning curve, and I don’t lament decisions. They all seemed very intuitive at the time, so we must have done an intuitive thing.”
Do you have any plans for album four?
“I have some ideas… but I don’t wanna spoil it!”
What has been your favourite album of the year?
“I have no idea! I heard that Destroyer record, I liked that record a lot. It sounds like Steely Dan. And I’ve seen him do it live, in Dallas. There were a lot of people on stage, a full brass section!”
Why do you think the album has struck a chord with people?
“That’s such a weird question. ‘Why do you think people like you?’ Ha! I think it’s more fully formed. It’s more emotional, easier, more palatable. I like it more!”
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