Album review: Grimes - Miss Anthropocene
Released on 21st February, Grimes’ 5th studio album Miss Anthropocene manages to simultaneously embody the magic of her artistry, yet also be her most unexpected piece of work to date. A metaphorical and culturally charged album, Miss Anthropocene appears darker and more eclectic compared to the positively poppy Grimes we saw in her 2015 Art Angels.
Although already firmly cemented at the forefront of the alternative music scene - with her multidimensional vocals and spacey synths - the mainstream media have come to know Grimes due to her relationship will billionaire Elon Musk, whom she is now expecting a baby with. Utilising her heightened media presence, Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) now wishes to use her music as a medium for addressing more political issues. The album explores Miss Anthropocene, the “anthropomorphic Goddess of Climate Change”, who spreads environmental destruction through the album. “I wanted to make climate change fun,” she said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, personifying the concept to make it “a bit easier to look at” so it's not just "abstract doom”.
Miss Anthropocene achieves new levels of Grimes’ intergalactic style, accompanying her multi-layered and airy vocals with a plethora of gritty beats and whirling noises. The clash of conventional, delicate songs such as ‘Delete Forever’ are in interesting co-existence with the darkness of ‘So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth’. Boucher labels the sound of this album ‘ethereal nu metal’, which is as random and imaginative as the album expands to be.
The album opens with a six-minute explosion of ‘So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth’. Setting the tone for the album, its all-encompassing ambience placed over a deep bassline immediately sends a message to expect the unexpected.
A personal favourite, '4ÆM' is the most surprising track from Miss Anthropocene. Here, Grimes collates a sample from Bollywood film track 'Deewani Mastani' with a fiery drum and bass beat. It's a confusing start, graduating from enveloping gloom to an explosion of electronic sounds. '4ÆM's clashing and experimental layers should hypothetically be a mess, yet the ethereal vocals she lays on top of these ideas successfully ties it together to birth a classic Boucher track.
The 5th single from Miss Anthropocene, 'Delete Forever', is the most personal track from the album. Aiming for a “raw punk” feel and “super clean vocal”, Grimes emphasises that she wanted 'Delete Forever' to be the antithesis to her normal music. This is immediately evident through the bright guitar opening and elegance of her opening line: “Lying so awake, things I can't escape / Lately, I just turn 'em into demons”. Although suggestive of a reference to the environmental themes throughout the album, 'Delete Forever' is in fact a eulogy to her six friends Boucher has lost to heroin addiction, and the journey she has gone through in dealing with their deaths. The intimacy that protrudes from this song is a gentle and welcomed move away from the unrestrained digital processing of the rest of the album.
Grimes has always been weirdly eccentric, yet warm and likeable; and although Miss Anthropocene delves into new depths of darkness, it still shines through as positively stylistic of Grimes.