sat 11/07/2020

CD: Grimes - Miss Anthropocene | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Grimes - Miss Anthropocene

CD: Grimes - Miss Anthropocene

Grandiose ideas and production, with the same old nerdy Grimes in there somewhere

Grimes is hilarious. For all the grandiose conceptualism, apocalyptic visions, high tech sonic manipulation, outré costumes, modish witchery, multiple personas, arch media baiting with her billionaire boyfriend and all the rest, she is still essentially a dork. When she emerged from the weird end of the 00s online electronic music landscape where semi-serious lo-fi genres like “witch house” and “seapunk” abounded, she always seemed kind of goofy with it. And though her musical progression has been a steady accumulation of expensive-sounding production, that same drama student on acid silliness is still there in bucketloads.

On her first album since 2015's Art Angels, that production is immense. There are vast sub-bass tones, waves of electronic orchestration and swathes of reverb and echo. Unfortunately, that's counterproductive. Where early on Grimes's self-taught electronic production was kooky and quirky and amplified her persona, now she seems swamped in it. The portentousness dominates, and the odd, idiosyncratic humanity is all too frequently left as just a trace. It also fundamentally misunderstands a key lesson of dance and electronic music at its best: it's not about being a servant to the technology but to manipulate it to the needs of human listening minds and dancing bodies.

Maybe that's part of the concept, and appropriate to her psychedelically frazzled end-of-the-world themes, but ultimately it makes the album feel like a technical exercise more than a creatively satisfying piece. It's not bad as such – hidden under the layers of polish of the epic but impersonal seven-minute album closer “IDORU” there's an interesting song, and there are occasional thrilling tracks like the rocket-ride tribal drum'n'bass of “4ÆM”. But it's the much more conventional song-led electropop of the title track that really shines, and suggests how much better grimes would be, and how much more interesting her conceptualism would be, if she didn't hide her dorky light under the bushel of technology and special effects.

@joemuggs

Watch "Violence":

The portentousness dominates, and the odd, off-beam humanity is all too frequently left as just a trace

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters