Album Review: Grimes – Art Angels

By on Friday, 4th December 2015 at 2:30 pm
 

Grimes Art Angels coverWhen you consider Grimes as an artist, pop isn’t the first genre that springs to mind. Certainly there are elements, but truly the only way to categorise Grimes is to put her in a genre of her own. “Grimes”, perhaps?

Although this fourth LP effort does see her edging toward a more characteristically pop sound, what we have here is what would happen if you took all of today’s pop hits and put them through a metaphorical “Grimes” machine. She utilises perfectly choreographed chord changes, massive beats and the sweetest of lyricism, then takes this perfect blend of pop beauty and adds her own touch, be it screeching falsettos, production that makes you truly question where the sound is attacking you from (in the form of stereo panning), and layers of vocals that entwine to create almost a bombardment of sound.

Opening track ‘laughing without being normal’ (sic) is a string-laden introduction that gives a false sense of security and an a skewed perception of what’s to come. It climaxes in a beautiful falsetto performance, surrounded by piano and plucked harps until it all falls apart into a chaos of rumbling bass and white noise before giving us the real first song. Lead single ‘Flesh Without Blood’ is without a doubt the track that you’ll always find yourself returning to. It’s easily Grimes’ most crossover track, along with ‘California’, an ode to being used and abused by said fair state (“when you get bored of me/I’ll be back on the shelf” and “I didn’t think you’d end up treating me so bad” are heartbreaking confessions of the dreamland that’s oft promised to young artists). ‘Belly of the Beat’ is very Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES in its vocal style, it could almost be a cut from them, just if they used real instruments instead of layers of synthesisers.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUe9rnucPoU[/youtube]

‘SCREAM’ has the stylings of a dark anime soundtrack, with its fast paced guitar picking and tribal drums which and maddening screeched rapping from Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes. It’s a strange track to place in between two of the record’s hardest hitters, but who are we to question the mind of Grimes? The album feels as if it could be shorter, as you find yourself mindlessly listening after seven or eight tracks. It does slap you back into the sonic room but there definitely could be opportunity for improvement in terms of the choosing of the cuts.

’Realiti’ is a large dance number that can feel tedious, but still has the power to make you want to move with its classic thumping beat and vocal hook. It’s not a necessity, perhaps would have been a better fit as a b-side to a single? ‘World Princess part II’ is another that easily could been removed from the tracklisting and you wouldn’t feel a gap in the proceedings. ‘Venus Fly’ is a spitting, bratty, thunderous track that attacks you with drum machines made to rattle your brain and get your blood pumping.

‘Life in the Vivid Dream’ is one of the more restrained cuts on the record, along with ‘Easily’ which is airy and as close of an homage as you’ll get to previous album ‘Visions’. Grimes clearly hasn’t forgotten what she first set the world on fire with, but the idea of not putting the clear songwriting talent she has to use in crafting pop songs that can help her crossover to the major leagues is ridiculous and something she has seemingly considered for her fourth outing. ‘Kill V Maim’ could easily be the lovechild of early solo Gwen Stefani and Charli XCX. Grimes knows what sounds good and what doesn’t and more importantly how to not sound like a clone, she truly is her own entity in the music world and it’s refreshing.

8/10

‘Art Angels’, the newest album from Grimes, is out now on 4AD. For more Grimes coverage on TGTF, head this way.

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[…] Jimeno’s soundscapes will appeal to the more purist electroheads like myself who didn’t fancy ‘Art Angels’. There’s a childlike innocence to some of her music, too: the bounce of synth notes sounding crisp […]

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