As at this time every year, we’ve been pondering candidates for our album of the year gong and its been a rather difficult process. Yesterday though the process got a little easier with the release of Art Angels, the intensely cerebral pop wonderland created by Canadian pop experimentalist Claire Boucher, aka Grimes. If anybody has been wondering what Boucher has been up to to since Visions, her acclaimed last effort in 2012, the blood, sweat and tears dripping all over Art Angels will leave you in no doubt.
The kaleidoscopic album comes across as almost a pop encyclopaedia as Boucher effortlessly glides through a myriad of pop stylings with insightful and sometimes caustically honest lyrical accompaniment. Witness the smackdown on all things fake on the country tinged back hander to ‘California’ and the vocal hook driven pop stunners ‘Flesh Without Blood’ and ‘Belly Of The Beat’. ‘Kill V. Maim’ and ‘Pin’, are radically different rough edged nods to bubble gum pop and the understated, uber smooth and reworked ‘Realiti’, released in different form earlier this year thankfully made her ruthless cut. Utilising Taiwanese artist Artistophanes on the the confronting industrial rap of ‘Scream’, is her first foray into producing without being front and centre.
The stunning dexterity of and within each track underlines her undoubted production chops, bringing guile and muscle to her creations. See, Boucher does it all. From writing, performing and producing the music, producing and directing her own videos right down to designing album cover art. It’s worth remembering that this is the first time Boucher has made a record that has been widely waited for, highly anticipated and to so completely triumph in such circumstances is never easy.
For us, she can take all the time in the world if she is going to create music this thoughtful, this exhilarating. And if anybody was in any doubt as to her almost manic search for intellectual pop perfection twinned with her humble honesty, two things stand out right at this minute – the fact that she culled an albums worth of tracks in the making of the record for not coming up to her impossibly high standards and that she posted this on twitter last night. We’ll leave the final word to her.
James Stocker – November 7, 2015
Scream (feat. Aristophanes)
From the album, ‘Art Angels’, 4AD.