Travel and Dining

Grimes, Art Angels: 2015 Album of the Year

I knew nothing of Grimes two months ago. Now I'm obsessed with her. Her new album, Art Angels, is the most captivating thing I've heard all year.

Grimes is a 27-year-old woman named Claire Boucher. She's a one-woman show. She writes, produces, sings, makes the album art, and directs and edits her music videos. Check out her video for "Genesis," from her previous album, Visions. Gorgeous stuff. (Start it at the one-minute mark, though – that's when the song starts.) The video for "Flesh Without Blood" is great, too. Ms. Boucher plays a naughty pink-haired angel, among other characters.

Grimes has said that she is a producer first and a singer second. She said she could picture herself producing a project where she's not the singer, but that if she were the singer and couldn't produce, she wouldn't be interested. Her production is pristine. Art Angels is 14 tracks of sweet, intoxicating artpop. I don't have much crossover in musical taste with fans of Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, but those fans would be into this album. It's really happy, original pop. Even when she sings, "Everybody dies, we cut out their eyes, and we dance like angels do," it carries the tone of euphoria.

Grimes can vary her sound wildly, song to song, album to album. Her previous albums are much moodier and more hypnotic than Art Angels. Her influences range from the mainstream to dark industrial bands you and I have never heard of. Since she plays and programs everything herself, she doesn't have live instruments when she performs live. On the recordings, she uses layers and layers of vocals, with plenty of effects, designed to scintillate in the most pleasing way. Then again, I played a song for my cousin, and he said it sounded like a My Little Pony cartoon, so it's not for everybody.

If you want a sample, check out the songs "Kill V. Maim" and "California." "Kill V. Maim" is likely to induce dancing and could be incorporated into anyone's cardio routine – especially if that routine consists of jumping up and down. "California" bursts with bright, sugary light. If you listen to those and you're not guzzling down more, this album isn't for you.

For the song "Scream," Grimes contacted Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes, and the two of them put together some wild, animalistic screaming and rapping. "Venus Fly" has Janelle Monáe on guest vocals, rapping with attitude, while a dance beat brings the thump. Every track is something new, with even the most digitized sections sparkling with magic and personality. Grimes reminds me of Bjork, in that she seems to have creativity spilling out of her every movement, splashing color on all she touches.

Also check out the albums this year by Foals, Purity Ring, Chvrches, Wolf Alice and EL VY. 

View the Worldpress Desk’s profile for Joshua Pringle.