Album Review: Grimes Awaited Art Angels Fulfilled Expectations

Montreal producer and song writer, Grimes (Claire Boucher) releases new album, Art Angels, after critically acclaimed 2012 album, Visions.
Montreal producer and song writer, Grimes (Claire Boucher) releases new album, Art Angels, after critically acclaimed 2012 album, Visions.

By Stephen Elliott

It’s been five years since Grimes, Claire Boucher, self-recorded and produced her first album Gedi Primes. Three albums later, Boucher put together another electronic-pop sensation.

Over the weekend, Grimes released the highly anticipated Art Angels for digital download and stream. The CD and Vinyl are still set to release on December 11.

Art Angels comes a year after Boucher discarded an album in the works after Visions. “It sucked, so I threw it out and started again,” Boucher said in a New York Times interview. In Art Angels, Boucher performed all the instruments while recording and producing most of the lyrics and vocals (99%). The third song of the album featured a Taiwan rapper, Aristophanes (who rapped “Scream” in mandarin) and “Venus Fly” featured Janelle Monáe making the only two lyrical contributors. This album reaches the depth of a unique singer, songwriter and producer.

The 14-track Art Angels brings pop to new landmarks. Boucher’s clever lyrics sung with vocals from somber yells (like in “Scream”) to her playful sound heard in “Oblivion” in her critically acclaimed album Visions. The single “Flesh Without Blood” features upbeat drumming with catchy guitar melodies. But the lyrics suggest a frustrated person fed up with someone once revered. “Kill V. Maim” is Boucher’s personal favorite track with it’s lyrics [I’m only a man/And I do what I can] and “Venus Fly” as both tracks attack male priority in the music industry and society. [What if I pull my teeth?/Cut my hair underneath my chin], these lyrics attack the “norm” of what people think and want woman-beauty to be.

The album begins with deep piano keys collaborated with stringing vilbelted underneath Boucher’s highest of vocals in “Laughing and Not Being Normal”. That backs-into the multi-layered satire-pop “California”, which as Boucher says is a hate track to Pitchfork. When Boucher sings, “The things they see in me, I cannot see myself” she denounces those who create premature judgment without knowing the person. Boucher recreates the single “REALiTi” that was released as a music video back in March. The album is capped off with the sugary “Butterfly” which Boucher says is written in the “perspective of a butterfly from the Amazon as people are cutting down trees” in an interview before the album was released. Destruction and chaos all around her, yet Boucher continues to write and produce her music, like a butterfly in an unsafe habitat.

Grimes’ uptempo melodies combined with dark and internal lyrics reinvents the pop genre. The lyrics are astute and personal but relatable to Boucher’s loyal fandom. Grimes continues her success as one of the leading post-internet sensation. Several elements collaborate to make this album exceptional, but one thing is clear about Boucher, you don’t know her and you don’t get to pretend like you do.

Watch “Flesh Without Blood” music video: