Having reached the ripe age of 80 last March, John Cale - founding member of the Velvet Underground - unravels all his long-earned wisdom and worldliness on this first album of original songs in a decade. Coming on like some arthouse, high-brow Gorillaz-lite project, ‘Mercy’ enlists noteworthy collaborators from across the leftfield - Weyes Blood, Animal Collective, Fat White Family - to aid in seducing you into its sequence of sensual, slow-burning art-pop gyrations. As measured and dungeon-like drum machine grooves plough through and swathes of synthesisers waft along like spectres, John’s crooning baritone romances, haunts and comforts. There are tales of love here, but also of the fractured political landscapes of Europe, the US and beyond: “The grand land that was Europe is sinking in the mud,” he sings on ‘Noise of You’. Once you’ve accepted the difficulties of the ambling paces, vast spaces, and all-consuming emotionality here, ‘Mercy’ becomes a gorgeous, enriching experience. The signature violin tremble of ‘Moonstruck (Nico’s song)’, or the beatific vocal duets with Weyes Blood on lead single ‘Story of Blood’, to name but two examples, are as delicately pure and ethereal as stained glass windows. Much like David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’, ‘Mercy’ provides another delicious example of an esteemed old-timer triumphantly pushing his creative frontiers into a much-shifted modern age.
His first new album in a decade is out later this month.
Lifted from his upcoming new album ‘Mercy’.
It’s his first new music since 2020.
They joined the Welshman for a ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ sing-along at the Philharmonie de Paris.