- EDM, pop, guitars and drum & bass? On Grimes' fifth LP, that improbable combo sounds better than you'd expect.
- In 2009, the Canadian artist born Claire Boucher—now going by c—built a houseboat, loaded it with chickens and potatoes and set off from Minneapolis down the Mississippi River. (Intending to reach New Orleans, she and her then-boyfriend only made it a few miles.) This story in Minnesota's Star Tribune was published years before Boucher became Grimes and released her groundbreaking album, Visions. She was not yet an art-pop sensation. She was not yet a social media personality. She was not yet dating a billionaire trying to conquer outer space. She was just being Grimes, the dreamer and mind-boggling weirdo who takes extreme measures to make her fantasies come to life.
This quality still powers Grimes' music today. Only now, a decade later, the DIY artist has picked up enough production, directing and performance skills to turn that janky houseboat into an intergalactic starship. These days, she calls her style of music "weird sci-fi fantasy auteur," a singular art form combining sound, branding, fashion and video. Never before has this been clearer than on Grimes' fifth LP, Miss Anthropocene.
Miss Anthropocene is a concept album about climate change, but you won't find any eco-sloganeering here. Grimes fast forwards past the apocalypse, using both music and visuals to evoke a world of sexy, simulated cyborgs and digital consciousness. "I, Poet of destruction, hereby declare that Global Warming is good," the Goddess Of Climate Change, AKA Miss Anthropocene, posted on the artist's Instagram in a villainous script. "Now is the time to burn twice as bright and half as long."
This celebratory nihilism defines an album that's sometimes dark and moody, sometimes manic and fun. There are familiar moments of quirky guitar pop ("Delete Forever," "You'll Miss Me When I'm Not Around"). More exciting is when Grimes goes big on reverb and club-sized beats. These tracks have an expansive, celestial quality, built from clear drums, resounding sub-bass and ecstasy-inducing synths. It's a galaxy away from the lo-fi bedroom producer of ten years ago. "My Name Is Dark (Algorithm Mix)" is beautiful and nightmarish, a fog of synths, guitar and screeching that psychedelically implodes. "Darkseid" is perhaps the hardest we've heard Grimes go, while "New Gods," a power goth ballad, is one of the most emotional. "Violence," a club cut featuring the EDM artist i_o, has a massive build up from the glory days of deadmau5—and it rocks.
Better still are the songs where Grimes' inner enchantress comes out. I'm referring to that high-pitched pixie voice that caught us on "Oblivion" all those years ago. On Miss Anthropocene, her haunting and ethereal singing serves a more direct purpose, evoking the nymphs, goddesses and demons that might wander this album's sci-fi world. On "4ÆM"'s intro, Grimes sounds like a seductress casting a spell, before the track unexpectedly breaks into a drum & bass beat. "So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth (Algorithm Mix)" sounds like an ancient, heart-broken hymn. The closer, "IDORU (Algorithm Mix)," with its soaring tempo and sparkling atmosphere, is the dreamiest of them all. Here, Grimes sounds her most innocent and fairy-like, as she invites the object of her affection to "play a beautiful game" and chase her, ending Miss Anthropocene in a magical moment.
01. So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth (Algorithm Mix)
03. Delete Forever
06. New Gods
07. My Name Is Dark (Algorithm Mix)
08. You'll Miss Me When I'm Not Around
09. Before The Fever
10. IDORU (Algorithm Mix)