After the warm reception of her third studio album Visions in 2012, Claire Boucher has kept us on edge as listeners thirsted for a new, almighty release. Under her moniker Grimes, the wait is finally over; Art Angels breaking yet more ground in her discography. A peculiar concoction of K-pop influence, electronica and instrumental experimentation, this LP is perhaps not what listeners expected but will grow to love.
Upon first hearing, Art Angels may lead one to think Grimes has concocted a big inside joke with herself, leaving listeners wondering what’s going on. Grimes has clearly drawn a lot of her inspiration from Korean Pop styles, even in aesthetic. It appears as though she has formatted a handful of her tracks and lyrics to sound as though she is singing in Korean; a quite interesting and refreshing way of listening. Grimes doesn’t showcase her vocals as well as she could in this release, however, instead opting for layers effects while singing in a higher pitch. Adding to the pop element of the album, this artistic difference is an effective creative device. After listening to the Art Angels multiple times, connections begin to form between the songs and her artistic vision becomes clearer – the record painting itself as a picture of playfulness, depth and in turn, it’s own unique piece of art.
‘Flesh Without Blood’ is most similar to Grimes’ previous work and in fact, it’s probably fair to say that it is also one of the catchiest songs on the album. The lyrics recite stories of a love that is no longer, glazed over as Grimes’ vocals are laced with an ethereal reverb that create an atmosphere reminiscent of a summery teen dream. The poppy clap beat behind the track makes it one to stare out the train window accompanied by a little head bop.
The combination of songs on Art Angels all seem to compliment and relate to one another quite well while standing out in aspects. For instance ‘Venus Fly’ falls in line with the album’s K-pop influence, carrying eccentric vibes that wind up into an intense break beat. Throughout the song, this intensity differentiates itself from any of the other tracks, including an additional violin piece reminiscent of medieval Irish melodies. This Celtic theme can also be noticed in her track ‘Life In The Vivid Dream’; a song with soft vocals and instrumentation. This particular song has an angelic quality in which the plucked guitar strings lace the track with a Gaelic aesthetic.
If you’re looking for an unusual mash-up of genres that somehow just works, then I implore you to give ‘Art Angels’ a listen. Art Angels is out now via 4AD/XL Recordings.