Grimes, “Art Angels”
With Björk in a delectably dire, duskily ambient, circle-of-personal hell in her latest LP Vulnicura, singer-producer Claire Boucher (a.k.a. Grimes) is now avant-electro-pop’s most knowingly provocative and abstractly transformative worker bee. “Everything I love becomes everything I do,” she keens on “Artangels,” the icy near-title track. More R&B–oriented than Iceland’s diva-queen, the once-murky British Columbian has polished up the brass discotheque rails of her daring dance-treks and pop hits—the anthemic “Flesh Without Blood” and the beat-box, bluesy “California” (where she now resides)—to a shiny new finish.
It would be naïve to accuse Boucher of gleaming up or dumbing down her sound because she moved to sunny LA. She may be glossier now, but, there’s plenty on Art Angels to recommend to her initial fan base. There’s the gender-fuck bait-and-switch of “Kill V. Maim” with its line “I’m only a man / Do what I can.” There’s the plastic somber soul of “Life in the Vivid Dream,” where she’d live “like a stranger” in the swirl of echoing multi-tracked vocals she mixed herself. Unlike previous outings, however, this time her echoes are lined with gold rather than greys.