Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, has made more news in recent years for her romantic involvement with Elon Musk than in her musical endeavours. This is all about to change with the release of her fifth studio album, “Miss Anthropocene”. The album is the follow up to 2015’s “Art Angel”. “Miss Anthropocene” is a loose concept album about an anthropomorphic goddess of climate change that was inspired by Greek mythologies and the villainy of mankind. The album’s title is a little play on the words misanthrope and Anthropocene, a neologism popularized by Paul J Crutzen in 2000 to name our current geological age. The new release when compared to Grimes 2015 “Art Angel” is brighter with more upbeat sounds but still contains the essence of Grimes’ obsessions with menace and climate disaster.
A major theme on the album is Grimes attempt to reflect her experience as an individual receiving almost merciless criticism and vilification by the media due to her relationship with Musk. She feeds from this experience and seems to decide that if she is going to be cast unfairly as a villain then she will musically be that villain. Along with expressing her concerns about climate change she looks to address what it is like to live in a post-truth society. “Miss Anthropocene” was produced by Grimes along with Chris Greatti, i_o and Hana.
“Miss Anthropocene” is a worthy addition to Grimes discography, once again she attempts to figure out the conundrum of being too Pop for Indie yet too Indie for Pop. In the process, she delivers an album that frequently channels Bjork, Aphex Twin, Tycho, and Mark Pritchard. The release begins with the captivating “So Heavy I Fell to Earth” and all those prior artists efforts can be identified as inspirational touchstones. The track’s spiralling journey combines the atmospheric with the ethereal and grips the listener not letting go. Grimes vocals belie the weight of the narrative as she performs this inviting opening track.
“Darkseid” Is both haunting and disturbing as Grimes again goes to the dark side with the repeated refrain, “unrest is in the soul, we don’t move our bodies anymore”. This eerie vibe is carried further with a morphed vocal akin to a demented scary doll voice which gets Grimes message aptly across. Just when things seem like they may go on like this throughout the release, “Delete Forever” becomes a nice departure from the heavy feeling of the two opening tracks. Here guitars and banjos make for a light feeling. The song conveys nostalgia for the past and former relationships. “Violence” features DJ i_o and jumps back into the sonics and themes of “So Heavy and Darkseid”, unlike the rest of the release this track I found slightly disappointing. The reasoning behind this feeling is that the synth accompaniment felt somewhat like rote techno and beneath Grimes capability. This is in contrast to Grimes insightful thematic take on the track which addresses abuse in relationships and human’s violence against the Earth.
“4/EM” displays Grimes return to form after a bit of a bobble with “Violence”. The track is an excellent combination of all the things Grimes does best making pop, her distinctive vocals and Electronica blend and producing a song that is so much more than its parts. Where “4/EM” is frenetic “New Gods” slows down and becomes a revealing brooding selection. “My Name is Dark” is an ode to Nu Metal combining moxie, grit and energy that makes for a great single. Again Grimes is dealing with some heavy topics but doesn’t let it bog down the song by adding muscular music to drive the selection. My favourite track is “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Here”. I revel in the grungy Garbage inspired vibes as Grimes channels her inner Shirley Manson while adding her own vocal trademarks. The final track of the record is “IDORU” is a pulled around torch song as only Grimes can create and is a sweet send-off to love and relationships.
Grimes with “Miss Anthropocene” displays she has lost none of her creative abilities simply because she is in a high profile relationship. Her noteworthy ability to mix Dream Pop, heavy beats, Electronica and Hip Hop together and never lose the listener is singular. The oscillating tempos throughout the album keep it from ever becoming commonplace. She proudly follows in the footsteps of other female trailblazers like Bjork, Siouxie Sioux and Kate Bush. The never boring always impressive Grimes may have taken a while to release her latest album but it was worth the wait.