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Key Track: Cruel”
She’s used her china-doll fragility as a Trojan horse for creepy sentiment before, but Annie Clark has never been this unsettling. Swaddled in strings, she was a touch too dull to draw blood; in sparse, erudite synths (skeletons wearing David Byrne’s big suit) she almost cuts too deep. Thuggish policemen, dead-eyed S&M trysts over lunch, contemptuous con men sticking us with the bill (“Oh America, can I owe you one?”). This is the year’s best snapshot of a country whose veneer is cracking, hard. It doubles as a guitar nerd record for a very specific kind of guitar nerd. We thank her for her texture and restraint, on their behalf.