Best Albums of 2011: #6

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Annie Clark has always been able to find way creative ways about talking about herself in her music. She seems to have an understanding of her own identity and her relationships that have inspired some pretty nifty metaphors: the actor, the tiger, the cheerleader, the surgeon -- she's always been able to avoid lyrical cliches. These can be found all over Strange Mercy. In fact, Annie might be at her best here lyrically, tying together themes of femininity, sexuality, and youthfulness all into one cohesive expression. Add in her music video for "Cruel" where she is kidnapped and forced into being a housewife and you've got a pretty unique statement on gender roles and female identity.

But in Strange Mercy, Clark has really managed to take her music to another level. Her guitar-playing has become as idiosyncratic as her unique vocal style and taken on a voice of its own. When she rips into deep electric guitar hooks behind her singing "I don't want to be a cheerleader anymore", Clark has found a way to express herself musically as effectively as she does lyrically. It's a thrilling achievement for St. Vincent, but most of all, it's just plain fun to listen to.

Best Tracks: "Cruel", "Surgeon"

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