Grimes – Visions

January 01, 1970

(Arbutus/4AD)

 

www.4ad.com

 

Vancouver’s
Grimes, a/k/a Clair Boucher, is an intriguing mixture of bravado and naïveté,
twinned qualities that have endeared her to both the club crowd and the bedsit
brigades. A one-woman collision of laptop-powered
IDM, chirpy/chant-y singing, performance art, and a healthy dose of face paint,
Grimes manages to come across as impossibly young (she’s barely into her
twenties) and wise beyond her years at the same time. This writer saw the
songwriter play at Moogfest last fall, and her set started off promisingly
enough, awash in pulsing rhythms and catchy Depeche Mode-like melodies plus her
signature cutie-pie vocals. But after a series of gear malfunctions her
outgoing demeanor crumbled and she bolted from the stage after barely 20
minutes, on the verge of tears. Some of those in attendance no doubt wanted to offer
her a reassuring hug, while the hipsters in attendance probably smirked at
seeing this heavily-hyped act fall flat.

 

Visions is her fourth
album in less than two years; 2010 saw her break through with the delightful Halfaxa, while last year’s Darkbloom, a collaboration with D’eon,
contained the YouTube hit “Vanessa,” a mesmerizing foray into Madonna-inspired
electropop with arty visuals. Visions expands upon the part-lush, part-minimalist vibe of
“Vanessa” and is a collection of discrete miniatures managing to be expansive
and intimate all at once. The record’s a showcase both for Boucher’s limber, acrobatic
voice and her otherworldly arrangements – prismic, widescreen assaults of
psychedelia and dancey ‘80s synth-rock that frame those operatic pipes.

 

She’s frequently given to ethereal wordless coos, giddy
squeaks and wounded gasps, deploying them as rhythmic depth
charges, and while some of the sonics also tilt towards the abstract, almost
glitchy or Aphex Twin-like in places, because the melodies stay foregrounded  the accessibility factor is high enough to
give a casual listener the sense of confronting a more mainstream pop album
than might be expected. From the Lykke Li-meets-St. Etienne “Genesis” to the
hypnotic, motorik “Oblivion” (listen
below) to the lush, gospellish “Vowels = Space and Time,” Boucher’s blossoming
star quality shines, her multitracked, soaring/swooning vocals carrying uncanny
echoes of such legendary ‘60s girl groups as the Crystals and Ronettes.

 

Visions is
ultimately an album that weaves its magic precisely because of all the inherent
contradictions enumerated above. Methinks come the end of the year, a lot of
people will have adjudged it a keeper.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Oblivion,” “Genesis,” “Colour Of Moonlight” FRED MILLS

Leave a Reply