• Record Label: Domino
  • Release Date: Jan 20, 2023
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
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  1. Clash Music
    Jan 20, 2023
    90
    This isn’t mere voguish reinvention but a masterful insertion into the most indecipherable of back catalogues, and its reliably mutable, endlessly wandering creator.
  2. Uncut
    Jan 18, 2023
    90
    Mercy is the most out-there work Cale has made in some time. ... The presence of Cale's voice - familiar, rich and avuncular - almost disguises just how radical much of the music is. [Feb 2023, p.18]
  3. DIY Magazine
    Jan 18, 2023
    90
    ‘Mercy’ provides another delicious example of an esteemed old-timer triumphantly pushing his creative frontiers into a much-shifted modern age.
  4. American Songwriter
    Jan 26, 2023
    80
    He's no less daring than before. Marked by a series of ominous atmospheric soundscapes, the album finds Cale seemingly beckoning whatever spirits surround him with a dire yet distinctive vocal that casts a spell on the effort overall.
  5. Exclaim
    Jan 26, 2023
    80
    A compelling album that will more than reward your attention.
  6. AllMusic
    Jan 23, 2023
    80
    The wonderful paradox of John Cale's music is his best albums don't often sound like one another, but they're all driven by music no one else could create, and his heart, soul, and vision are visible and intact through the dense, free-flowing atmospheres of Mercy.
  7. The Line of Best Fit
    Jan 20, 2023
    80
    While it’s not his greatest studio album, or even his best since the turn of the millennium, Mercy is a great example of all that Cale does well, and a real triumph. It's one of the most tonally consistent albums he's ever done.
  8. Rolling Stone
    Jan 19, 2023
    80
    Mercy, Cale’s first in a decade, is one of his most compelling.
  9. Record Collector
    Jan 18, 2023
    80
    Cale remains the star of the show, however, still crafting richly textured songs that don’t always go where you might expect them to, and refusing to pander to expectations.
  10. Mojo
    Jan 18, 2023
    80
    The lack of solidity can make Mercy nebulous like any spirit photo, it sometimes takes work to find the shape, fill in detail. Yet slowly, its unfamiliarity coalesces into a cold beauty, memory acting as a spur, not a comfort blanket. [Feb 2023, p.85]
  11. Pitchfork
    Jan 24, 2023
    78
    His voice remains unmistakable, a walnut burl with cracks in the grain. The stentorian register that Cale used to wield with authority is absent. ... Cale’s here, once again and for now, still not making things easy on anyone.
  12. Under The Radar
    Jan 23, 2023
    75
    In Cale’s eightieth year, Mercy reiterates his ever-evolving dedication to high strangeness and musical exploration, and while it never even approaches being an easy listen, it is certainly a compelling, rewarding ride.
  13. PopMatters
    Feb 2, 2023
    70
    He can take the bleak and inhospitable subject matter and give it just enough life to make it a rewarding listen for those who partake. It’s a delicate and risky maneuver, but Cale has managed it here.
  14. The Quietus
    Jan 20, 2023
    70
    It’s no Paris 1919, and it’s no Vintage Violence either. You, as the listener, will be required to do some work. To call Mercy a slog would be dismissive and unduly harsh; challenging would be more appropriate. Given that we are in the presence of the 80-year-old godfather of avant-rock, you know that persistence will be its own reward eventually.
  15. Dusted Magazine
    Jan 26, 2023
    60
    It’s not that these songs are bad, just that they sound a lot alike: elegant, chilled, full of foreboding.
  16. The Observer (UK)
    Jan 23, 2023
    60
    This record is crying out for the calibre of musicians that helped Bowie make Blackstar, or Bill Callahan’s painterly band, or a truly dial-moving producer – or perhaps some intellectual assaults on the very notion of music itself to pin the listener down and inform them that John Cale – John Cale! – is in the building.
  17. The Telegraph (UK)
    Jan 20, 2023
    60
    Mercy is not an easy listen, but it is nevertheless inspiring to hear an octogenarian artist declining the comforts of nostalgia, still forging his own wayward path, opening byways for others to explore at their leisure.
  18. musicOMH.com
    Jan 18, 2023
    60
    Mercy may have a few forgettable tracks, but an artist with John Cale’s long and varied history will always find a way to intrigue the listener.

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