On MERCY, reminiscence is treacherous. “Not the Finish of the World” sparkles with a reassuring grandeur, however every time his processed, multi-tracked voice repeats the title, it feels extra like a lie. Incendiary “The Authorized Standing of Ice” raises a bitter toast to polar bears stranded on an iceberg; Cale intones, “Ding dong, the witch is useless,” over a tundra of frosty guitars and cracking drums, and the witch would possibly properly be us. In different moments, it’s the previous that’s bewitching. “Evening Crawling” stumbles round with neo-soul swagger, getting nowhere (comparatively, for this very downtempo assortment) quick. “I can’t even inform whenever you’re placing me on/We’ve performed that sport earlier than,” he chants, trapped in a loop of trying again to reconfirm he’s nonetheless trapped in a loop. Centerpiece “Eternal Days” begins out elegiac, after which Avey Tare and Panda Bear be a part of Cale in dismantling your entire concept of a requiem. Breakbeats remind you they’re named for destruction, phrases shatter into mere syllables, and the motives behind the making of amends are thrown like snapped branches right into a bonfire of historic proportions. It’s brutal.
Heat is uncommon. “I Know You’re Comfortable” makes an attempt a form of late-Motown bop, however flops somewhat elegantly into first recriminations after which earnest desperation. Within the luminous “Moonstruck (Nico’s Tune),” he tells his previous collaborator, “I’ve come to make my peace,” as tender synth pads echo her previous harmonium wheeze. One wonders what Nico, who made a few of the world’s most stunning songs whereas embracing some very ugly politics, would consider Cale calling her “a moonstruck junkie girl, observing your ft.” Or what one other doomed icon, Marilyn Monroe, would consider his ode to her, the seven-minute “Marilyn Monroe’s Legs (Magnificence Elsewhere),” which units numerological and phenomenological musings in opposition to a shivering display of bleeps, rustles, and moans. It’s extra Cronenberg than Warhol, however at the least not as creepy as Andrew Dominik’s current Blonde.
By some means, although, alienation isn’t all. MERCY is a revelation of the necessity to join. It’s a necessity that doesn’t waver as one ages, because the deaths of your family members hasten. Cale totally embraces that want’s each aspect. Within the title observe, Laurel Halo’s exceptional sound design ballasts Cale’s plea for somebody to “raise me up,” an act of generosity in a music about hoping for one. In a pair of the album’s most devastating songs, Cale’s previous pal the piano comes out: For a second, it’s there within the bluesy intro to “Story of Blood,” a crisp, dizzying duet with Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering, which abruptly bursts into some heavenly headspace between SZA and Slowdive. Cale rages in opposition to these betrayed by their our bodies. “Convey them with me into the sunshine,” he and Mering sing to one another, shouldering a burden constructed for 2. And when the soul fails, connection is a mortal concern. “Out Your Window” closes the album with, principally, Cale on the piano, invoking Paris 1919. For all its complexities, MERCY ends with Cale vowing to avoid wasting a troubled pal’s life. “If you happen to soar,” he guarantees, “I’ll break your fall.” Not cease, not catch, however break. Cale’s right here, as soon as once more and for now, nonetheless not making issues simple on anybody.
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