Review Summary: Pleasing but not totally there.
This record is rather beautiful; from the fearless experimentation to the sweet, feminine coos and subtle but soaring vocal-work to the instrumental and textural diversity, Halfaxa
establishes itself as exotic and strange, bordering on vacuous at times, but nonetheless too captivating to overlook. It suitably parallels the artist running the show – Grimes, who ostensibly embraces opportunities to appear weird, inevitably making the image she presents cause for polarization. But, well-liked or not, Grimes captures profound interest and Halfaxa
does the same. It wholeheartedly embraces the 'special' marker attached to it, thereby drawing vast interest.
In addition to sequential placement, Halfaxa
in essence is the transition between Geidi Primes
. Claire continues exploring assorted textures, sounds, and vocal colors but sharpens the elements at work, making the album more cohesive than Geidi Primes
but more free-spirited than Visions
. Grimes wades sometimes prettily and sometimes harsh- and intense-like through the album, succeeding in forming nice contrast; however, she is meanwhile unassured and disengaged throughout Halfaxa
, simply drifting around the atmosphere, not quite finding solid footing.
Therefore, she is perpetually detached from the music which might be intentional but can be disconcerting - even if unsurprising considering the fascination she has for unearthly spaces. By nature, she stays away from the familiarity of comfortable, generic soundscapes striving to evoke other-worldly and unrecognizable sensations – look no further than the slurred mumblings and whimsically made-up words sweeping the record. She sort of crafts herself on the outskirts of the music which makes for interesting listening and intriguing musings, but gives the album an empty, thoroughly untouched quality.
Claire has described the music she makes as post-internet which means she composes with the internet-mindset, presumably using the Internet's tools to create beyond the bounds of it. However, whatever Halfaxa
is trying to achieve by way of the Web, Grimes cannot truly transcend anything because she has not fully discovered who she is, which is apparent in the eclectic mix of styles and features on the album, or what messages she wants to communicate - she herself is unsure, relying on unintelligible screams, cowls, sighs, what have you; none of which have tangible intent behind them. Consequently, Halfaxa
is essentially Grimes' journey to self-discovery; it has the groundwork to who she will become artistically - what she will emphasize and what she will leave behind, but if anything it is a pastiche of many styles, from folk to R&B, integrated into one body of work, which is why she is isolated from Halfaxa
In conclusion, although Halfaxa
may not move you or change your life, it will intrigue you; it aptly imitates and smoothly incorporates various genres together in a decidedly pop casing and despite the cold exterior, it is sometimes compelling and plenty beautiful. But, similar to one's state of mind at the onset of sleep: vague awareness, detached pleasure, and hugger-mugger consciousness, Halfaxa
is pleasing but not totally there.