Grimes Art Angels 4AD
Grimes, it seems, has given her very last fuck. You can hear it flying out of the window on her explosive first single from Art Angels, Flesh without Blood: “You never liked me anyway”, she sings. “I don’t care anymore!” You can hear it being smashed to bits on Kill V. Maim; a bonafide club banger told from the perspective of a vampiric, gender-switching Al Pacino in The Godfather Pt 2: “Hey! I won’t behave! I won’t behave! No way!” she screams, pushing her voice to helium heights. You can definitely hear it being crushed on Venus Fly too, a screamer of a song about being ‘too scary to be objectified’.
So where did those fucks go? Evidence exists that suggests Grimes may never have possessed any in the first place. She did a Boiler Room set in 2013 and played Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift and the Vengaboys back-to-back. She dresses like a macabre manga character on the daily. She has built a devoted following just by being purely, and unapologetically, Grimes. Art Angels is the embodiment of this ‘screw your musical superiority complex’ attitude. Echoes of Alice Deejay’s Better Off Alone glance through the newly reworked and shiny Realiti, the outro of Kill V. Maim sounds like Fedde Le Grande’s Put Your Hands Up For Detroit, and you can even hear the distinctive ‘hi!’ of the Macarena on the titular Artangels. It screams fun.
While it’s charged with chart nostalgia, more than that, it reclaims a portion of pop as Grimes’ own. Art Angels was written, engineered, produced and performed by Boucher herself – a comforting thought when you think that even Beyonce’s empowerment anthem Run the World (Girls) was written by a bloke. The male gaze of pop music is something that Boucher has spoken on before: “You wonder if maybe there would be less pop music that was just about sex and love if it wasn’t always women in a room with a bunch of dudes,” she said in a recent Rolling Stone interview.
While Art Angels is a thrilling listen by design, some songs can’t carry through the excitement of some of the bigger sounds on the album. Pin, California and Butterfly all sound a little too radio ready, missing out on the strangeness that’s made Grimes a true alt pop adventure. Despite these minor, skippable hiccups though, Art Angels’ overarching lesson is that it’s okay to like what you like, even if you’re a Dolly Parton fan who’s into J-pop and medieval Mongolia (just like the defiantly nerdy Grimes). Leave your sneers by the door: this is Grimes’ world and we’re all just living in it.