Grimes finds herself firmly in the realms of cosmic pop and proves that experimental does not necessarily mean niche. Claire Boucher aka Grimes is an icon for her undefinable sound – a mixture of electronic, pop and hazy synths she has a talent for blending influences. Following her breakthrough album, Visions, the new album takes a poppier and arguably more commercial twist which, inevitably, has been creating controversy amongst her fans.
Art Angels shows yet another reinvention of Grimes which feels much more personal from the production to the artwork she has taken control and come into her own. The album opener, (‘Laughing And Not Being Normal’) would fit into an alien film score with violin instrumentals and sweeping sounds it sets the tone for the upbeat California that follows. Here Grimes forms one of the most poppy and catchy choruses of her career with her shouting “California, you only like me when you think I’m looking sad, California, I didn’t think you’d end up treating me so bad” as always there’s a hidden melancholy and depth to her lyrics.
Lead single, ‘Flesh Without Blood’ has a driving beat behind it fitting in with the anger and disillusionment of a relationship. ‘Kill v Maim’ moves into a psychedelic electro-pop drawing on K-Pop influences it’s a frantic and energetic affair which demands to be heard. One of the sweetest moments is ‘Easily’ which is stripped back with simple piano chords and lighter beats, Grimes proves she can master minimalism amongst her the chaotic complexity of the rest of the album. It’s clear that the aim of the album is a strong self-expression of individuality and a refusal to conform.
“It’s clear that the aim of the album is a strong self-expression of individuality and a refusal to conform”
The most significant change is the inclusion of more lyrics which allows for more of an instant connection to each song. This doesn’t come at the cost of the instrumental aspects as the range of sounds is vast and draws on multitudes of influences. It’s more coherent than her more fragmented and experimental work which makes Art Angels feel like her most complete album to date. Although, this does mean that some of the tracks near the end of the album merge seamlessly which could come across as a bit repetitive for those unfamiliar with her.
This album proves she is still as unique as ever and distinguishes herself from her manufactured pop princess peers. It may be healthy for the world to open their eyes to the fierce pop power that is Grimes.
Lok Yee Liu
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.