NEW ALBUM: Grimes – Art Angels
Art Angels is already Grimes’ fourth album, which is proudly denoted on its cover: Claire Boucher, the woman behind Grimes, who rose to unexpected stardom after her 2012 album Visions has been releasing music since 2010, when she self-recorded and self-published two excellent full-length records: Geidi Primes and Halfaxa. And for me, the biggest achievement of Art Angels that it still feels uniquely as the work of that same artist. There is still weirdness in her music and she still flirts with bubblegum pop without ever snapping into the mold of Billbord-chart topping serial hits, even after she has become a world celebrity and appeared on many magazine covers.
I have been a fan of Grimes for a long time and I am rooting for her success, so the long run-up to Art Angels was painful at times. There was the single Go that hinted a shift to mainstream and the backstory that it was written originally for Rihanna sounded – unintentionally – like a publicity stunt. Then it was reported that she threw an entire album away, because of the response to Go, which she denied. Last, she announced that her new album would have “real instruments” and lots of violins. Would she have given in to make something more “serious”, maybe with a long lineup of established collaborators, like FKA twigs on her debut album?
None of the above. When Flesh Without Blood came out, it became that it was still the same Grimes of Visions fame, with three plus years more of musical experience and a lot of fresh ideas. She plays all “real instruments” herself and, aside from two guest spots by Aristophanes and Janelle Monáe, Art Angels is, like her previous work, still a one-woman show.
Art Angels is undoublty pop, but the songs are much more complex than they appear on first listen. Maybe that is Claire’s genius: even though her music can hook you immediately, it reveals itself layer by layer with repeated listening. And that is before you factor in the various hints she gives on Twitter and Instagram about what she actually means. (Fortunately there is Genius, where helpful people summarized it all).
Here’s the wonderful video for Flesh Without Blood:
Art Angels is out now on 4AD. Listen on Apple Music or Spotify.