Grimes
Miss Anthropocene


3.5
great

Review

by Kirk Bowman STAFF
February 21st, 2020 | 348 replies


Release Date: 02/21/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: filtered fangs

It's easy to hate Grimes. From the name, inspired by the genre tagging system on MySpace and later unofficially shortened to the scientific symbol for the speed of light, to her shameless mixing of influences (Mariah Carey, Joanna Newsom, Aphex Twin, Outkast, etc.), everything about her aesthetic seems to rub people the wrong way. There are certainly some valid criticisms, like her lack of recognition of her own privilege and her blindness to some of the history of the primary genres she works with. However, most of this discourse has defaulted to routine, sexist, and narrative-fetishizing tropes, particularly after the success of 2015's dance-pop Art Angels. The reasons so many people hate Claire Boucher - the way she is unabashedly online and imaginative within her art on visual and auditory levels, her lack of respect for the difference between indie and pop, and especially her outspoken feminist critiques of music's sacred cows - are the reasons so many of her fans love her. In 2020, it's no longer accurate to say nobody else sounds like Grimes, but the duplicates are just that. For the first time, though, she sounds like she's copying herself.

Miss Anthropocene is the most derivative Grimes record yet. It sounds like someone had access to her catalog and calculated the average. Both Visions and Angels took the chance to refine and redefine her music, transforming her from just another Cocteau Twins-aping rando making weird amateur dream pop into someone with international popstar potential completely in control of her own sound. But here, tracks sound like B-sides from Anthropocene's predecessors, and the entire theme feels like Visions' spooky hazed-out night drive mixed with Angels's dramatic and choral energy boost. Very little about this feels particularly like a step forward, let alone a reinvention. That said, if the biggest problem with your album is that it sounds too much like two of the best pop albums of the decade, you're not doing too bad. In fact, I wouldn't say anything on this album as "bad." At worst, it's a bit over-reliant on dull rock standards, especially when she steers away from anthems and into the deep cuts, like "My Name Is Dark," where the flow of the album as a whole really has to do the heavy lifting. Individual tracks are often great, and everyone who's been waiting for five years will be pleased to hear that her genre-blurring style hasn't faded at all. "Delete Forever" may sound just like her recent material, but with a vocal-chopping chorus, some of her best lyrics, and a surprising mix of 808s and banjo, it's so fun that it's hard to care. "4AM" starts off inconspicuous enough, with the slow soaring vocals you've probably come to associate with her over a vaguely tropical beat, but is soon taken over by a crazy infectious and much higher BPM breakbeat that's as exciting as the best drum and bass. "IDORU" is an entrancing seven minutes, a fun bliss ride between synthpop and shoegaze that really does sound like adoration and aidoru. Even if this is the creative low point of her mainstream career so far, with her fantastic track record, that's not saying much.

The real problem with Anthropocene is what it implies for her future. Continuing on this path will likely lead to highly diminishing returns, as the ball of singular energy she once held slips out of her grasp. There's a disjointed structure to this, the spirits of her past battling to control the overall design. Is it ethereal wave or electropop? Was it engineered to fit into a seamless whole (as the alien-baby single covers she designed for the last five singles might have you think) or did it receive a bunch of last-minute changes (electrorock anthem and single "We Appreciate Power" was reassigned to bonus track and the tracklist was drastically rearranged from a leak)? Does it want you to feel good about our society’s potential or to get pissed off about it? It's really hard to feel like Boucher is sure about anything here, which is disappointing given how her certainty used to define her. The stated theme of this album is to "make climate change fun" so it is a "character" rather than an "abstract doom." There's something to that here, but it's obscured underneath all the attempts to please everyone. It was easy to feel the drugged-out easing through pain of Visions and the passive-aggressive feminist rage of Angels, but efforts to personify global warming don't really come through on first, second, or tenth listens here. That being said, a new level of darkness and anger does show itself for the first time. This is where I think her focus could lead to new results - in her aggression. With her omnivorous genre ability, knack for songwriting, and willingness to feature unknown artists (and known, with an Uzi collab on the way), her next work deserves high expectations. Even as her career takes a slight dip here, it's still clear that she has what it takes to create something uniquely threatening. She'll have to put in effort, but if anyone could do it, love her or hate her, it's Grimes.



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3.4
great
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Comments:Add a Comment 
granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2020


1061 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

successfully avoided referencing elon 😤

Keyblade
February 21st 2020


29449 Comments


some feat considering u talked about We Appreciate Power

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2020


5418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Cool rev, and I agree with your points.

Digging: Oneohtrix Point Never - Magic Oneohtrix Point Never

AmericanFlagAsh
February 21st 2020


9940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Digging this more than I would

She's such a good producer

Digging: Gorillaz - Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez

luci
February 21st 2020


12527 Comments


I feel like the first paragraph is a misrepresentation of why Grimes has become disliked over the past few years. It's her relationship with Elon Musk and the influence that's had on her politics along with a series of interview gaffes ("I'm a bit of a socialist, but not economically" is the funniest to me) that made people turn on her. It has little to do with her genre/artistic perspectives.

proscett
February 21st 2020


53 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

delete forever, 4aem and new gods are great. not really feeling IDORU as much as most are it seems

Digging: Bjork - Post

Keyblade
February 21st 2020


29449 Comments


it's both really. it started with her music. when she started going in a poppier direction all her hipster fans got mad. but yeah then she did a complete 180 on what she supposedly stood for because she was getting her back blown out by a billionaire lol

TundraL5Z
February 21st 2020


5223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no u

Digging: Bring Me the Horizon - Post Human: Survival Horror

TundraL5Z
February 21st 2020


5223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

repost of tier list



A tier: So Heavy, New Gods, Before the fever

B tier: miss me when not around, Violence, Delete forever

C tier: 4AM, My name is dark

D tier: Darkseid, Idoru

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2020


29403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

"It has little to do with her genre/artistic perspectives"



While the rest of your comment is on point, I feel AA was a bit of a fuck you to a lot of her basementy hipster fan base from the Visions days. Review is happiness and I'm hyped to jam this despite not taking her vaguely seriously at this point.

Digging: Tricot - 10

AmericanFlagAsh
February 21st 2020


9940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"C tier: 4AM, My name is dark"



Excuse me but what

Keyblade
February 21st 2020


29449 Comments


4am D tier for sure

AmericanFlagAsh
February 21st 2020


9940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

4AM is the best song here

luci
February 21st 2020


12527 Comments


@Johnny: maybe I'm misremembering history but Art Angels was received well by the hipster crowd (talking P4k/Stereogum here, maybe you mean a different segment of her audience). After the initial confusion it wasn't long before it was deemed a superior work to Visions. It's also a perfect narrative fit for the aforementioned publications: the elusive indie artist who embraces pop and reaches new creative heights.

TundraL5Z
February 21st 2020


5223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Excuse me but what"

somethin has to go on the bottom, is what it is

AmericanFlagAsh
February 21st 2020


9940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Put New Gods and Before the Fever down there

TundraL5Z
February 21st 2020


5223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no u

AmericanFlagAsh
February 21st 2020


9940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The algorithm mix of IDORU is excellent

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2020


29403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

@luci yeah, was talking less the pop hipster crowd and more her original ethereal wave scene

"After the initial confusion it wasn't long before it was deemed a superior work to Visions"

I feel the consensus on this still varies depends on where you ask; the question of which is better is borderline synonymous with whether you have a Tumblr or P4k bias to the point that it's barely worth asking lol

WatchItExplode
February 21st 2020


8317 Comments


I liked this considerably more than I was expecting to.



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