[Album Review] Grimes- Art Angels
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)


Release Date: November 6th, 2015
Label: 4AD

As a huge fan of Grimes’ 2012 release Visions, I was eager to hear what Claire Boucher would follow it up with.  In the three years, the producer/artist changed labels, management and moved away from Garage Band. She also made an album and apparently scrapped it after people’s reaction to the pop tune “Go”.

Maybe it was good for her to reconsider the kind of artist she wanted to be and Art Angels very purposely and effectively balances pop music and her weird very Grimes aesthetic while challenging what music can be in 2015.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the catchy pop hooks of an almost cliché song like “California”. It could have totally been written for Taylor Swift (and would have done awesome if Swift sang it), but Grimes gave it her sweet angelic twist.

She contrasts this sweetness with occasionally dark subject matter. The Aristophanes rapping “SCREAM” is the perfect example of this storying a sexual encounter between a man and a woman where she isn’t quite as satisfied as the screaming man. Boucher isn’t afraid to challenge the boundary of our ears not just within the constraints of music but cultures and sounds as well. The screams are rhythmic and bass intense and scary, giving her more of a reputation as a producer.

“Flesh without Blood” is like gentlest way to tell some dude to fuck off. Can we just send this song to everyone we’re ghosting? It will work in the same way. In other ways the lyrics don’t necessarily make my sense but as a listener are captured by the production (“Belly of the Beat”).

Throughout Grimes shows her love and affinity for pop music. “Kill V. Maim” is a set to be an anthem for females in it’s aggressive lyrics of war declaration. Just as badass is the stomper “Venus Fly” which features Janelle Monae, which takes every opportunity to take Boucher’s strength as a producer. Darkness hides itself in World Princess Pt II, which screams self-blame after a friend took their life. Later “Live in the vivid dream” questions life in a beautifully sorrow tune which plays up the pathetic fallacy of rain.

It’s not all dark and hateful. In fact the title track “Artangels” consists of a chorus that says “I think I love you” five times and the following “Easily” highlights a dependency on someone. One of my favourite songs is the sweet-like-candy storytelling of the poisonous relationship in “Pin”.

“REALiTi” is one of the only songs that was publicly disclosed to be part of the scrapped album that made it on Art Angels and this mastered version finds its home here. The album ends on the pop jam “Butterfly”.

Over the past few years, Grimes has been an influential force of fashion, feminism and now a total force to reckon with in pop music, while pushing the boundaries of what the future of music can be. She’s the only artist who can challenge these boundaries and remain very much within her own brand of weird.