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Grimes - Miss Anthropocene (Album Review)

Tuesday, 03 March 2020 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Eli Russell Linnetz

With winter’s chill still in the air, Grimes has taken time out from being annoying on Instagram to release ‘Miss Anthropocene’, her first solo record since 2015’s ‘Art Angels’. Thank heavens, it’s great.

The record is a washy, sprawling treatise (theoretically) on the subject of climate change, and while the central concept feels a little hatched on at times, it remains a tremendously powerful record that, for better or worse, announces the Canadian electro artist as a fully fledged global pop star.

There's lots to like. So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth - Art Mix is a track of terrific balance and poise with airy synths engaging in a kind of mystical digital nebula; all neon cloud patterns and wondrous dreamscapes.

Violence, which features i_o, does similar things equally well, managing to balance tremendous pop writing with that distinctive Grimes sound. 

In certain ways, much of Grimes' originality comes from a girly vocal style which has much more in common with performative femininity than electro singing, which often skews towards androgyny. Normally this kind of nasal voice might grate; sending unnerving signals of baby-talk and creating the rapey atmosphere of sketchy anime.

But because Grimes has the creative sensitivity to balance this with sassy spoken word and oodles of musical invention, her pop persona stays on the right side of the line. This is especially the case with standout tracks like You’ll miss me when I’m not around, with its over-confident opening couplet: “I shot myself yesterday / Got to heaven anyway.”

That said, this album does occasionally fall flat. Both Delete Forever and  Darkseid try double backflips without fully landing. The latter song (featuring 潘PAN)  is a wonderful trip-hopper with digitally enhanced spoken word over the top. The problem is that Grimes' recurring motif— “Unrest is in the soul / we don't love our bodies any more”—feels contrived and pretentious. 

Moments like this sound like the type of grandstanding that Madonna would pull off and Lady Gaga wouldn't. Perhaps the kind of messaging that should have stayed on that annoying Instagram of hers. But ‘Miss Anthropocene’ is still very, very good.

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