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.
Describing the album as an ‘exercise in villainy’, Grimes' newest release was shaping up to be a zeitgeist-y, ecocidal manifesto, navigating the valley between natural and artificial intelligence. What initially felt like an exciting new lens to view man-made destruction of the planet through, shapes up to be more of an insight into Grimes’ relationship with her own existence.
The album opens with the stunningly minimalist ‘So heavy I fell Through the Earth’ which was released as a single back in November. Ethereal vocals glimmer over a steady bassline in what is a distinctly Grimes love song. No smash, no gutsy chorus - this feels significantly departed from the earlier single ‘Violence’, which tears through the emotions of a relationships' 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 lyrical quality of Art Angels into one.
Despite not dominating the tracks as much as interviews would suggest, human relationships with artificial intelligence is a recurring theme. 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’.
Whilst all this dystopia borders on the depressing, her lyrics are unrivalled in the mainstream by their ability to interrogate materiality in the digital age.
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 impactful feeling of the more upbeat numbers.
Rather than being strictly about the climatic crisis on earth, the album in its entirety feels like a holistic commentary on self destruction in the anthropocene, and the intimacy of materiality. It’s reflective and bloody, tackling emotion head on with an open mind and a pretty well handled synthesiser.
It is an album of loss, 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, Grimes cements herself as a force for the future of music.
Featured Image:Grimes/Miss Anthropecene
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