“When it works, it’s terrific, but otherwise I’m left with an overwhelming sense of ambivalence.” – Dara Higgins thinks the internet might be wrong about Grimes.
Reviewing Grimes is a futile exercise. The internet has already told you how to feel about Claire Boucher’s music. Either you’re all over that band wagon or you hate the internet telling you how to feel, and thus, you hate Grimes. With good cause too. She’s terrible.
Well, no she’s not. That’s controversy, it’s how the internet works. Grimes, or Grimey as she prefers to be know (I assume), may well become a world wide (web) sensation, seemingly through no fault of her own. He voice is a weird mixture of Tiffany, Alison Shaw from The Cranes and Alvin, of Chipmunks fame. There are washes of vocals, layers of filtered, processed lines, draped over the minimal beats. It’s hard to know exactly which voice is the real Boucher, if indeed there’s a naked, raw vocal take on the album. At nearly 50 minutes the record feels too long, that there’s not enough by way of variation, or not enough really great tunes to fill out that much time.
There are moments of pure pop inspiration. Genesis, Vowels = Space and Time, (on which there are glimpses of her real voice, and how good it could be), Be a Body and the somewhat beautiful Skin. The overall effect of spending so long in this record is of being left cold by the relative lack of humanity. Like spending time with a robot dog or Keanu Reeves or something equally mechanical and expressionless. The necessary diametric opposite of listening to some solipsistic tosser with an acoustic guitar emoting about the poo he had that morning, but sometimes it’s good to hear emotions, in playing, in an unprocessed voice. This is pop music; where is the smut, dirt, grinding and sex? Where, in fact, is the grime?
This is a very now record, the kind of music the mp3 was invented to carry. It sounds encoded. When it works, it’s terrific, but otherwise I’m left with an overwhelming sense of ambivalence. Which of course means that the internet may be wrong. However it’s evident that there’s a real talent underneath the layers, and as she progresses we’ll get to know more about it. That is, of course, if the inevitable backlash leaves anything left. Visions intrigues, lets just hope she’s allowed to flourish further.
Visions is out on 4AD on March 9th.