Duffy, “Mercy”

All the attention lavished on this new-model Dusty Springfield/Lulu concerns the sound of her voice (say it again: more Lulu than Dusty). But what makes “Mercy” so enticing is everything swirling around it before it sings a note: the opening bassline, which retools “Stand By Me” (by way of De La Soul’s “A Little Bit of Soap”) for the umpteenth time; then, a bit of “96 Tears” Farfisa; and, seconds later, another layer of chewy ’80s keyboards a la Prince or New Order. These hooks weave and bob around Duffy’s brassy voice and transform it into one more sound effect, making this so-called “retro” piece a work of high-tech, minor genius. [YouTube]

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