By Greg Evans, First Year History
In her fifth studio album Grimes offers up Miss Anthropocene, the goddess of climate change and the personification of a lurching point in human existence. A visionary smash of futuristic production and lyrics that scream to be misunderstood - this album is a force of creative genius.
Describing the album as an ‘exercise in villainy’, Grimes’ lyrics create godly abstractions, with each song representing an embodiment of human extinction. What initially feels like a new lens to view man-made destruction of the planet through, shapes up to be more like an insight into the fluctuations of Grimes’ personal relationship with existence.
The album opens with the stunningly minimalist ‘So heavy I fell Through the Earth’ which was released as a single back in November - Grimes’ classic ethereal vocals glimmer over a steady bassline in what is effectively a celestial love song. No smash, no gutsy chorus - this feels significantly departed from the earlier single ‘Violence’, which tears through the emotions of an imbalanced power dynamic with a cyberpunk switchblade.
A highlight comes with 4ÆM, an intense drum and bass track sampling Bollywood’s Bajirao Mastani - a thumping kick drum and layered vocals make for a dark, futuristic track that combines the turbulence of Visions and the vocal quality of Art Angels into one.
The domination of artificial intelligence and post-truth are recurring themes. The possibility of technological self-destruction on earth and the subordinance of humankind to knowledge is a near reality for Grimes, in the husky and downbeat ‘Before the Fever’ she sings ‘This is the sound of the end of the world … There's so many ways in. But there's only one way out’. In conversation with Zane Lowe in January, Grimes gave us an insight into this complicated relationship with existence and how intelligence can supersede existence, ‘I would love it if humans remained… I think sentience is an incredible phenomenon… it may not exist anywhere else.’
Whilst this all seems pretty depressing and dystopian, her words allow us to understand the complexity of her art and the isolation of being a creative in an industry that suppresses individuality. As the album moves forward with ‘Delete Forever’, Grimes laments the loss of friends to the opioid crisis in America, delivering a stripped back acoustic like nothing we’ve heard from her before. Whilst this track feels detached texturally from its counterparts, the rawness of emotion and intricate production echoes the feeling of the more upbeat numbers.
Rather than being about the climatic crisis on earth; the album in its entirety feels like a commentary on the destruction of self and the nuances of intimate relationships. It’s reflective, bloody, inflamed, and it tackles emotion head on with nothing but an open mind and a synthesiser. Showing little regard for a cohesive style, this genre bending album explores the best avenues of Grimes’ creativity to offer up a collection of 15 tracks united in emotion.
It is an album of loss, of self-intimacy and a spirit that articulates the rawness of contemporary life in a futuristic style that is unique to her art. Miss Anthropocene is a lurching point, conceptually and as an album, building on the beauty of Art Angels, she cements herself as a force for the future of music.
Featured Image:Grimes/Miss Anthropecene
What did you think of Grimes' latest record?