Live preview: St. Vincent

Annie Clark and her band refuse to settle into predictability.

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St. Vincent

St. Vincent Photograph: Tina Tyrell

Devoted (or at least well-connected) St. Vincent fans might've caught this local indie-rock act back in August, when Annie Clark and her live band performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur a couple of weeks before the release of Clark's impressive new album, Strange Mercy. Even if you were among them, though, you're strongly advised to check in again this week, as St. Vincent plays the next-to-last show of a monthlong North American tour: Like the surgeons, actors and cheerleaders she sings about, Clark is sure to have sharpened her game with experience; she's at the head of a young indie-rock class with no use for the old guard's distrust of practice.

Which isn't to say that Strange Mercy lacks a certain innate intensity. Indeed, much of the record's appeal derives from the way Clark uses her carefully manicured arrangements—think of the midpoint between Big Black and Talk Talk—to explore the messy exigencies of real life. ("This album is way more candid and closer to my heart than my other records," she told Pitchfork over the summer.) But as an artist who puts as much faith in her guitar playing as she does in her singing, Clark understands the importance of a delivery device. She knows that talent, minus technique, tends to remain at rest.

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