Grimes has made her way up in the world of pop music to become one of the genre's most endearing artists. Her music always sounds unique in the grand scheme of pop music, an it's almost always a refreshing sound.
It really feels like she has the potential to start some kind of revolution. Her latest album, 2015's Art Angels had a very cinematic and ethereal vibe paired with a unique energy that seemed like it could grow so much, not in the sense that the record is undeveloped but in the sense that this is a sound that people could really bridge off of to add their own touches. The fever dream that is Grimes' Art Angels is the future of pop, or at least, it should be.
The album begins with the dark, poetic, and haunting intro of 'laughing and not being normal' which punchy, plucked strings and a growing black hole of creepy synths. The song transitions into the much more upbeat 'California,' as if after getting sucked into that black hole, you found yourself on the other side in an alien world with beaches and a good time. The song's super upbeat vibe makes it incredibly infectious, almost making you want to get out of your seat and dance along to it. The beats are often very metallic and sharp in a sort of anthemic way, giving the song an almost industrial aspect to it. The punchy, twangy guitars add the California and beach vibe to the track, but while the Golden State is certainly no unknown territory, this song definitely feels like its coming from an alien world in all the right ways.
The best thing about Grimes' music is her ability to create fantastic, unique melodies that are interesting and catchy from track to track. Take 'Flesh Without Blood,' with its alternative "oohs" in the beginning and guitar-driven sound. It's like alternative rock meets pop in a way that we have never quite seen before. It's not pop rock, but its not alt. rock either. It's caught in between, but the great melodies are definitely one of the best parts of the song. 'Kill V. Maim' is similar in its sound, its rockier vibe building to a very track with a touch of seriousness to it. While the verses are certainly interesting with lots of different timbres, the choruses have this huge, almost EDM-esque vocal line that is obviously heavily affected but still gives a very awesome vibe. The bridge is beautiful, Grimes' vocals crooning in a moody pop way that sounds brilliant.
There is also aggression on Art Angels that stops it from being just another fun pop album. 'SCREAM' featuring Aristophanes is downright scary. Aristophanes' verse opens the song, the Mandarin words not understandable to all but definitely creepy and a bit unsettling in their delivery. The chorus features this tortured scream that is next to horrific, breaking down into some industrial rage like a Nine Inch Nails track. 'Kill V. Maim' features some screaming too, particularly at the end of the chorus, where Grimes screams the "war" lyric in "You gave up being good when you declared a state of war."
Art Angels sounds so right in so many ways. The lyrics are simply brilliant from track to track - every word is a pretty great. Not all tracks have all the hype going for them; songs like 'Artangels' and 'Easily' are solid, but don't carry much merit. Most songs, however, have at least something making them feel special. A lot of the end of the record has a very ethereal sound to it. 'REALiTi' has a pulsing pop vibe that sounds very spacey and cool. 'World Princess, Pt. II' offers up a very surreal sound, changing halfway through to something darker. 'Venus Fly' featuring Janelle Monáe has a sort of pounding trap vibe to it, making it unique, before 'Life In The Vivid Dream' (which should be longer) and its ethereal presence and 'Butterfly' with its dinky, dreamy vibe brings the record to a big close.
Grimes never fails to disappoint or surprise. Every track she releases is very unique and has an almost unforgettable vibe to them. The fever dream that is Art Angels sounds like what the future of pop should be. Spacey, ethereal, and fun all at the same time, with some darkness sprinkled in there. It's a fantastic pop record and definitely a model for the future. So far, it's influence hasn't had much traction, but perhaps Grimes' next release will be the necessary catalyst for the genre.
Favorite Tracks: California, Butterfly, Flesh Without Blood, Maim V. Kill
Least Favorite Tracks: Artangels, Easily
Rating: 88 / 100
Buy or listen to Art Angels here: