2020 – Pop / Art Pop
After five years, Grimes returns with an excellent album, which is darker than its predecessors, but which is lost in its own concept
Since the beginning of his career, Grimes has always been a great unique artist. In 2010, after studying ballet for 11 years, Claire Boucher moved to Montreal to study neuroscience at McGill University. During this period, she began to invest in her career: she produced, wrote and performed in the vacant class hours. According to her, her artistic name, Grimes, was based on a style that she herself discovered on a MySpace page: Grime, a genre of urban music from the early 2000s. But over time, Claire started to put her studies aside to focus on her career, and with that she was expelled from the university. Thereafter, Claire played the role of Grimes full time.
Since his first album, Grimes has been known as a great artist, composer and producer who has a unique vision for the future of music. But despite investing a lot in each of his albums to make them as perfect as possible, Grimes starts to hate them in the following year. In a December 2010 interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 Radio, Grimes revealed: “I actually think this album is extremely sick. This is probably my favorite album I’ve made. Which is shocking because usually I really hate my work in the year after I’ve made it. I’ve conceptually moved on.”. And since then, this concept has been applied. In an interview with Cultured Mag, Grimes made a cruel comment about his latest album, Art Angels: “The last album was a piece of crap. I feel like people really misread it and it feels like a stain on my life.”
Ironically, Art Angels, without a doubt, is the best album that Grimes has released so far. And the fact that Grimes refers to this album as a “piece of crap” makes everyone create atmospheric expectations for his next album, Miss Anthropocene. And in a way, in the beginning, this anxiety for an incredible new project was quenched with singles like “We Appreciate Power”, featuring American singer Hana, which ended up being an incredible song, but unfortunately ended up being left out and ended up being included as a bonus track from the deluxe version of the album. But when the album arrived in the hands of the whole world, it ended up disappointing. The album is still very well produced and is darker and darker than its previous ones, but it is not at all iconic.
According to Grimes herself, in several interviews and even on her Instagram, Miss Anthropocene is a villainous character from an alternative universe who observes, from space, the end of the world. In addition, she also revealed that: “Each song will be a different embodiment of human extinction as depicted through a Popstar Demonology.”. However, in the final product, we have none of this, or at least, it is not at an understandable level. We have tracks that can make analogies to a supposed end of the world, but it’s not quite as elaborate — in reality, it seems a bit like a fan theory. “Violence”, which sounds like a mix of K-Pop music with dark pop and has an effect on Grimes’ voice that ended up being a little bit harmful, talks about an abusive relationship, and could even be an analogy to the race relationship with the planet Earth, but even so, it ends up being a weak concept and weak song. And I think that’s what the album ended up disappointing: the songs don’t have incredible concepts or super elaborate lyric; they seem to be the weakest thing on the tracks. And that ended up getting worse due to the high expectations that Grimes cultivated in us.
But the fact that the lyrics do not follow the concept proposed by Grimes or do not meet the expectations that we all create does not make these lyrics bad. “Delete Forever” works with a banjo, luscious vocals and occasional electronic bubbles. Although the singer defined this track as “boring”, it is one of the ones that I liked the most on the album: it is simple and direct to the point, besides having several excerpts in the lyrics that are very beautiful. In contrast to this, “4ÆM” has a very poor handwriting. Of course, the song was made for the Cyberpunk 2077 game and was based on the Bollywood film Bajirao Mastani, and despite having a very exotic and very interesting sound, the lyrics are very tedious and make the song seem totally unnecessary on the album. “Before the fever” is one of the songs that comes closest to the concept that Grimes proposed: “This is the sound of the end of the world / Dance me to the end of the night, be my girl”. Unfortunately, the track is not bad, but it is quite unforgettable.
But it is clear that this album has tracks that are excellent. The album’s first track, “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth (Art Mix)”, is one of my favorites. The progression of this track is incredible: in the beginning, synthesizers that sound very thick and dark, then it mixes with lighter beats and Grimes’ angelic vocals. The lyrics of the song are not very elaborate while some guitars play chords in the background, but even so we can feel a taste of criticism of machismo. “Darkseid” which features chorus by Grimes and verses by Taiwanese singer 潘 PAN, starts off in an extremely strong way and although it seems to get lost in the middle, in the end it managed to remain firm in its atmosphere while talking about people’s souls leave their bodies behind. “New Gods” is probably my favorite on the album. It is an incredible mix of piano remixed with synthesizers and a pitade of horror on Grimes’ vocals. In this range, Grimes works on the fact that humanity is building the new gods of society, the machines: “Hands reaching out for new gods”. The biggest problem with this music is that it ends.
“My Name is Dark (Art Mix)” begins as a rock song made by a garage band from the 90s, but then evolves into screams and a very dark, confused and problematic but catchy chorus: “The boys are such a bore, the girls are such a bore / I never trust the government and pray to God for sure, yeah”. “You’ll miss me when I’m not around” is one of the heaviest on the entire album. It is one of the most different on the entire album as well: it mixes high voices remixed from the sample with synthesizers and heavy guitars when talking about the demon of suicide. The lyrics are probably the heaviest part: “I shot myself yesterday / Got to Heaven anyway” […] “Hurt myself again today / Doesn’t matter anyway”. The last track, “IDORU”, seems like a relief for Grimes herself. The birds in the background represent rebirth and love, and a beat that sounds like a car alarm is really nice to hear. In the lyrics, she says: “We could play a beautiful game / You could chase me down in the name / Of love” in a serene voice while in the background we have an electronic beat. The track, as a whole, is the arrival of everyone to paradise or better place, after all the storm at the end of the world.
In short, Miss Anthropocene is not bad, in fact, there are many good songs like “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth” and “New Gods”, the biggest problem of all was that not all songs follow the concept that Grimes promised. Of course, some tracks, like “Violence”, which has a relationship with a supposed end of the world, but the rest of the tracks don’t seem to respect that idea, and if they do, they ended up leaving the biggest meaning hidden between the lines. But aside from the problem with the broken concept, Grimes presented a great album, mainly in the sound that is cohesive and very well made and thought out. This is certainly not the best Grimes album, but it is still excellent, despite its script breaks.