In Grimes’ new world, cyberpunk chic is the mantra of true pop star royalty. Meditative beats invade the club, playing with the fires of imagination for a generation without a queen or a choreographer. Canadian born Claire Boucher didn’t come from money, at least not the star-making kind, and has risen not through hard work and dedication alone, but via a resounding strangeness, a genuine top-nerd chic and sensibility. Grimes brings the kind of x-factor that doesn’t even ask for your attention, just that rolling at the back of the party cool, until you get to know her. Then her curtains come away, in layers like you can’t quite figure out how they were sewn, or where, and the diva that stands in place of that quiet bookworm girl, this waif, the Rave Queen, could wreck whole fleets of battle cruisers on the blue-green shores of her strange, lonely rock in space.
Haha, I overstate, for the poetic sake, but not by much. If you’re into modern electronic music, pop music, prog music, costume design, punk and cyberpunk aesthetics, or . . . dystopian industrial synth pop, well, you’ve already heard of her. I shouldn’t waste time on predictable introductions, that’s where I usually tune out of reviews myself, after all. If by some chance you got here on your very first google, I’ll gladly bow aside to let you explore the trove of one of the most visionary performance artists of our time. Go on back to Google, and click on that video for Flesh Without Blood. I’ll see you in a couple hours.
Grimes is sexy, powerful, coordinated, literary – a creative force of nature – and all of her elements are in polished form on Miss Anthropocene. That isn’t to say it scores a 10, but the realness of the work is maybe its best trait. Grimes has something to say. She may not always be exactly sure what it is, but she isn’t going to hold back from chasing it down in front of all of us, because she is an artist that still believes in her own vision.
Since 2018 she has dropped a pretty steady flow of singles and features, most of them worth a long song cycle to themselves. The soundtrack b-side Medieval Warfare, the features Play Destroy and Nihilist Blues, the demo for Pretty Dark, and the singles for We Appreciate Power, Violence, and So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth, steadily built up before the Feb 21st release for the album, which came and went itself with little fanfare. The deluxe edition brings additional remixes and the full track list, and I can’t imagine why you’d settle for less. Seriously. We never saw the double-album concept piece, and so by the time I got the actual album, as it stands, I was inevitably a tad underwhelmed. It’s rough being me, I know. The release itself clearly wasn’t planned and kind of came out all over the place, to the detriment of the final experience. I mean, I saw the video for Violence six months ago now. It’s really pretty amazing. I had the song on repeat for days. But it’s kind of like if you went to a new action movie after seeing the climax in a trailer six months earlier. And honestly, why not drop the double? She’s got enough material at this point, with quality remixes, easy. Release : 7
So do yourself a favor and hit up Soundcloud for some remixes, on the house. Klickaud has an easy downloader to supplement. I personally get into Bassnectar’s take on Genesis. Did I mention Grimes can video? She and her brother are just waiting to direct something way cooler than The Matrix, fyi. I don’t know what it’s gonna be, but it will change sci-fi, if it comes from the heart. Jimmy Urine does a Kill v Maim that’s worth the time. Muneshine’s take on Go and the 33 Speed Realiti are also worth a look, and easy enough to find.
Costume design, character & world building, choreography. Somebody just give these kids a script! They’ve probably got their own. I mean, she’s having Elon’s baby, so there might be a script or two being floated their way now and then at this point. If not, I’d be happy to find them one.
So this album is still washing over me. Grimes paints with textures, many layers. If it wasn’t progressive electronic pop, it would be easy to call it overproduced. But she came through those walls like a bullet, years ago, and we’re not concerned with artistic excess, if we’ve made it this far with her. This isn’t Art Angels though, this isn’t a bullet so much as a black hole, curling slow as a fibonacci to the bass line, which is also layered. In that metaphor, her vocals are going to be the photons, with a style slightly reversed toward her earlier, more atmospheric works. Art Angels brought her voice to the front for the first time, and she pulls back a touch with Miss Anthropocene. She is brooding and young, outspoken while unsure, Enya brought back to life in a robot, conscious of her heartbeat, taking the first steps into endless space, trailing comets like daffodils behind her. Is Miss Anthropocene like Miss Universe, wearing the sash of an epoch, the next stage of evolution for our World Princess? Tell us something about climate change, Miss. I’m not sure it ever quite goes there, though the characters she generates along the way, each seem to have something they are so desperate to say. It remains subliminal. Even Delete Forever, with it’s veer into Cyrus and Crash Test Dummy territory, turns out to be a killer loop for an afternoon. Her expression is reigned in, and deliberately darker on this album, but her songcraft is every bit intact. You have a platform now, C. Say something real.
Shout out to Aristophanes, who makes a return appearance in what is again a standout track.
That Scream though, that’s Claire, eh? I haven’t heard anything like her in pop music since Michael Jackson in his prime. Of course it was a different time. Just something in that scream. Claire is on top of the world, this little techie, the Dune fan from Vancouver. She’s in love with a billionaire and gets to play dress up for a living. Where does she go from here? I fear sometimes she’s showing her cracks already, renaming herself after light, talking about being reincarnated in a robot. The trajectory from the top is precarious, and honestly, even for Elon, must end more frequently like Challenger than Apollo. Such is the nature of uncharted territory. Everest is riddled with the dead, like a cold, cold reunion of musical geniuses from the 90s. And the ones who made it out alive, well they’re still all fucked up, more often than not, by fame. Who will Claire become, now that she’s shown us all the diva in her soul, unbridled? Who will she be when, inevitably, her life is a more humble thing? Will she die of her own expectations, or take the long route to follow her true muse as it takes off through the woods, away from the banks and the hype? Follow that light.
Of course as we delve into reviews of human beings, we’re being quite Orwellian now ourselves, and should probably shut the fuck up and enjoy the music. Quit tearing down your idols, world. The fact that we’re listening to her, that is basically anyone in pop music or sustainable tech is going to hear her name, is success in itself, beyond what most will ever see. But personally, in my less subtle fanboy moments I still kind of think, watching her dance, why not just set my ship down nearby forever. If she would just give us a rib we might make a whole new race of men.