Heard of Grimes before? I didn’t think so. Claire “Grimes” Boucher has had it rough in the world of fame, and has perhaps shied away from the spotlight somewhat. It took three albums to pierce through the tough skin of the music industry, finally making it with record-store favourite Visions. It seems Grimes is finding herself, focussing her sound and obtaining some sort of identity with her evolution from debut Geidi Primes to her new, fourth album Art Angels.
Track 1, ‘Laughing And Not Being Normal’ sums up the image of Grimes for me. She’s not “normal” and she loves it! Screw stereotypes, Grimes is twisting the idea of pop as we know it. Taking influence from Korean pop, ‘SCREAM’, featuring Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes, cements the foundations of a pop record that certainly breaks the norms.
As not to stray too far from the pop genre, songs such as ‘California’ and ‘Flesh Without Blood’ resonate with current bands such as CHVRCHES, offering something familiar to listeners. The sickly-sweet vocals throughout provoke the innocence of the no-nonsense woman behind the mic, amplifying the juxtaposition of identity surrounding the Grimes brand.
The energy of this album ebbs and flows constantly, spotlighting filler tracks (‘Belly Of The Beat’, ‘Pin’) and intensifying killer tracks. One such is ‘Kill V. Maim’, Grimes’ take on cheerleading with kick-ass flare and one hell of a stomach-punch chorus. Janelle Monáe joins in the womanpower, featuring on the RnB stylings of ‘Venus Fly’, the album’s pivotal track, proving that these guys are not taking any prisoners. “Oh, why you looking at me?” Grimes asks, standing her ground, strong and independent, holding her own.
Whilst trying to overcome her demons and come out trumps, Grimes opens up on many tracks, letting the listener in like a cry for help. In particular, ‘REALiTi’ assures everyone that she too is human. “Every morning there are mountains to climb” is a statement we can all agree with, and one that is all too familiar to many. This is a reflective period in the album, along with ‘Life In Vivid Dreams’, which take on low-key personas; perhaps revealing her more vulnerable side, a theme I feel underlies the whole of Art Angels.
The final song, ‘Butterfly’, illustrates the journey that Grimes has taken to this point. There has been a metamorphosis, from an artist who hadn’t quite found her niche, to someone who will be heard loud and clear as a distinct individual. “I’ll never be your dream girl”, a line from ‘Butterfly’ which, for me, tells us that this lady is not conforming to preformed ideas of pop artists. If you’re into Grimes, then great. If not, she doesn’t give a shit.
IN SHORT: A self-explorative album, proving that Grimes is a kick-ass woman with some killer tracks but one that possesses a vulnerable side, still questioning her identity in the dog-eat-dog world of music.
Check out: ‘Kill V. Maim’, ‘Venus Fly’, ‘REALiTi’
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