Album Review

Art Angel

Art Angel

by Grimes


4AD
9 / 10
11th December 2015

Reviewed by Louisa Kasza


It has been three years, or several aeons for the average internet-ravaged brain, since the release of Visions, yet the new Grimes album Art Angels still merits a pause in our collective scrolling. Hailed as a break-up album from Canadian producer and multi-instrumentalist Claire Boucher to fickle fans, intrusive journalists and a misogynistic music scene, the mood evoked is less self-pitying than jubilantly angry. But while Art Angels may be Boucher’s hate-mail to the haters, it reads even more strongly as her love letter to music’s many genres, and it’s a sprawling, complex work of art. From the deceptively light-hearted Taylor Swift-esque ‘California’ to the demonic ‘Scream’, Grimes shows versatility and even virtuosity in her vocal ability, her musicianship (contributing to the album’s long germination, Boucher taught herself to play all the instruments required), and above all, her skills as a producer.

Perhaps the most consistent element throughout this varied album is the intensely layered production, reminiscent of early-2000s Kylie Minogue or Ray of Light era Madonna, but the album’s mainly upbeat and ethereal sound is complicated by the odd foray into real darkness. The aforementioned ‘SCREAM’, which doesn’t feature Boucher’s own vocals but instead those of Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes, is a jarring reminder that Boucher regards herself as just as much a producer as a vocalist, defying the public’s tendency to treat female producers as guest vocalists on their own tracks. However, the jewel in the album’s darkly glittering crown is ‘Flesh without Blood’, which deftly brings together the record's main strands of early 2000s-influenced electro-pop and industrially-charged electronica, unabashed femininity and swaggering defiance. Listen to the entire album on headphones to catch all the details and transport yourself to a beautiful, terrifying fantasy world.





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