Review: Grimes new album, Art Angels
The world of experimental, electronic and art music is filled with alter-egos, from Trent Raznor’s Nine Inch Nails to the famous animated Gorilazz by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, and in the last five years there has been a boom in female solo performances in these genres with the likes of Zola Jesus, Glasser and, perhaps the most notorious one, Grimes.
Claire Boucher’s persona has been having quite the early career so far, having made a huge impact in 2012 with her third album Visions, which put Grimes in the global music spotlight. While her first three albums gave all music fans something to shake their head to, Grimes realises her new album and it proves to be a new definition of her sound.
2015 is being a great year for Grimes, with the artist touring with Lana Del Rey as the opening act for The Endless Summer Tour and having her most recent album come out in the end of October, Art Angels. This new stage of Grimes career seems to show the artist slowly breaking free from her experimental phase in the first albums and showing her amazing production and instrumental skills with densely flowed and catchy vocals. One can say that Grimes ascended to a new comfort zone: she is no longer afraid of playing outside of her passion for mainstream pop music, like K-Pop which is a ever-present thought in the previous albums, and is able to mix it with clearer melodies without too much distortion. In this way, Art Angels can easily fit as the beginning/ending-of-the-night jam in a club, in a way.
In her previous albums her sound was more complex, something she needed in order to integrate herself with the public. However, in Art Angels there is a feeling of confidence, one that has no need to conceal itself in order to be appreciated. The intro to the album builds up the mood and expectations, feeding fans what they were waiting for. The track California absolutely echoes in a bitter-sweet sing along as the perfect combination of Grimes’ new sound: a hymn to a deeper feeling of independence, which is perfectly explicit in the words “oh I’m not ready to win, oh lord ’cause I don’t want to know what they say, ’cause I get carried away “. SCREAM is performed in chinese, a wink to her inspiration and the musical culture that clearly infuses Boucher’s beats. The following tracks Belly of the Beat, Realiti, Venus Fly (which features Janelle Monáe in a grand performance as expected) and Butterfly are the perfect example that great pop music doesn’t need to be aired on MTV by famous DJ’s or popular singer, and prove that Grimes is a true master of production like Diplo or Mark Ronson. Like in most cultural aspects, it’s in the details that we find the value of art and aspects like the 90’s pop guitar and the background vocals that accompany the percussion just highlight the quirkiness and wit that Boucher is famous by gracing her fans with.
Art Angels is not about love songs, if you’re still stuck with the word “pop” in your head, but about attitude, something that Grimes isn’t scared to show, as was seen in her performance at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (surely a sign of a prominent artist) earlier this month. Grime’s progression is natural and her voice reaches new heights and has more depth and range than her previous work. For those who don’t know Grimes, this is the train to hop on, one that sends your soul to a chilled holiday in one of this year’s top albums.