Claire Boucher never wanted to be in the spotlight. She longed to be back in the studio, instead of up on stage. With the creation of her weird diva persona Grimes, however, Boucher has been able to thrust herself into the spotlight, create a large social media following, and gain mainstream acclaim.
Grimes has become a micro-celebrity, gaining acclaim from her 2012 breakthrough album Visions, which was recorded in just three weeks. Since then, Grimes has signed to Jay Z’s management firm Roc Nation, toured with Lana Del Rey, and moved from Canada to LA. However, her new found fame has also caused Grimes to have her words taken out of context, get punished by the media for things she never said, all while being demanded to create more music, make more appearances, etc.
With the release of her fourth album, Art Angels, Grimes is back and has upped her game as a writer, singer, and producer. Art Angels is upbeat, broad, and a showcase- it is pure Grimes.
The album opens with “laughing and not being normal,” which is a telltale sign of what is to come. The track is laced with Grimes, angelic vocals, and heavy strings. The operatic vibe seems out of place on what is mostly a pop album, but it clues you in to the sonic rollercoaster you are about to get on.
Many of the album’s tracks focus on the music industry and the media that, in the past few years, seem to have turned against Grimes. On “California,” Grimes laments about how the media has torn her apart over the last three years. She sings, “I didn’t think you’d end up treating me so bad…The things they see in me I cannot see myself/ When you get bored of me, I’ll be back on the shelf.” The lyrics are heavy, but are toned down by the songs energetic, brat-pop vibe. On “Flesh Without Blood” Grimes takes down all those in the music industry who accused her of being in it for fortune and fame.
The strangest track on the album is “SCREAM;” a song sung entirely in Mandarin by Taiwanese artist Aristophanes. Grimes takes a step back on this track to focus on the production and lets the craziness come from a different source. On first listen the song is somewhat frightening and strange; however the song begins to grow on you as you learn to appreciate its horrific qualities.
“Easily” is by far one of best tracks on the album. Grimes takes a (slight) break from her heavy production elements and instead focuses on piano and string elements. The song is a mid-tempo standout with its heavenly, flittering vocals and calming melody.
Boucher is a self-taught producer and musician. Every note herd on Art Angels, from the drums to guitar to the technical recording and production elements, is all Boucher. Not only is that an incredible feat, this feat is made even more incredible by the fact that the album sounds as if it was produced by one of the industry heavy hitters. Art Angels is much sleeker and polished than her last album, which is an ode to her musical talent.
Grimes has responded to all of her critics with a roar on Art Angels. She has created a pop-album unlike anything on the radio currently. Art Angels is bizarre, unique, wildly entertaining, and a must listen.