Grimes
Miss Anthropocene


4.2
excellent

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
February 23rd, 2020 | 633 replies


Release Date: 02/21/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Always down when I'm not up, guess it's just my rotten luck.

Grimes has always been an acquired taste. What has unfortunately defined her career over the five years since Art Angels catapulted her into the pop stratosphere she’s been so conflicted about since bobbing down the Mississippi all those years ago, however, has been how much outside forces have enhanced that image. Yet while the deconstruction of first her persona and then her private person in the press, and the predictable fetishization of Grimes as that tired old female trope – the difficult, nasty woman – have all contributed to Grimes’ divisiveness, it’s Claire Boucher’s seemingly willful inability to see how she arrived in this predicament that is most telling. There’s a certain inherent naivete Boucher seems to give off, a self-aggrieved streak that ignores unforced errors like the Zola Jesus/Devon Welsh “silicon valley fascist propaganda” dustup that she can’t avoid, a nasty social media habit where absurd positions are staked and just as commonly retracted days if not hours later, and the woeful lack of preparedness and/or self-awareness that seems to accompany everything associated with he-who-shall-not-be-named. “The things they see in me, I cannot see myself,” may have been too prescient. Art Angels brilliantly highlighted the conflicts between Grimes’ fast-rising star, the expectations that came with it, and Boucher’s reflexive vitriol at it all. Paradoxically, the problems she confronted and vanquished on that record only intensified afterwards. It’s a cruel joke that the person who once said “I really hate being in front of people, but I’m also obsessed with being a pop star” now finds herself in the worst of both worlds: a mainstream mainstay, photographed by magazines who know her as a public figure first and a musician fifth, tenth, or not at all; meanwhile, shunned by a press and fanbase for distorting and then throwing away their wishes and expectations.

Into this mess comes Miss Anthropocene, a record that emerged after two-and-a-half years of fits and starts, label conflicts and public relations spats, and more incoherent mission statements than a Kevin Barnes press tour. The hilariously half-baked thesis for this record, climate change anthropomorphized into a vengeful goddess (“she’s naked all the time and she’s made out of ivory and oil” – subtle!), is largely a concept for the sake of having a concept and something Grimes probably enjoys using to fuck with people in interviews. There are a few half-hearted attempts to further this theme, in which the industrial-pop miasma of “Before the Fever” and extended eco-disaster metaphor “Violence” fare the best (the latter’s throbbing Balearic beat provides one of the record’s most enjoyable moments, in a lizard-brain sort of way). One listen to “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth,” though, in which Grimes basically goes to hell because of her love, and Miss Anthropocene reveals itself as something infinitely simpler: Claire Boucher, trying to come to terms with how and why she ended up here, on the dark side of fame.

As a portrait of humanity at its worst, Miss Anthropocene is a rich text. Confronted with the narrative that she’s losing control of her career, Grimes has turned in her tightest, darkest record, one that excises the spiraling hyperactivity of Art Angels into a coiling, cold ball of fury. Far from the global chimera of climate change, Miss Anthropocene’s most prominent demons are uncomfortably personal. On “4AM” and “My Name Is Dark,” she loses herself in self-destruction and “imminent annihilation,” substances and strange men, the former’s whiplash change from ethereal hashish trip to e-charged drum ‘n bass racket a particularly confusing yet compelling trip down the rabbit hole. “Delete Forever” considers the opioid crisis in sobering detail, juxtaposed against the brightest melody of her career, a plastered-on smile necessary to get through the grief. Throughout her vocals remain largely unintelligible, much more so than on Art Angels, whether drowned in echo on “New Gods” or smeared across “IDORU’s” rainbow of sound. When they do come through, they tend to make a point: “You’ll miss me when I’m not around” is self-explanatory, Grimes reverting to original AIM-away-messaging; that haunting chorus coming in on an alien wavelength on “Darkseid.” Particularly barbed is that one motif that keeps peeking out of the crushing, crashing metallic surf of “My Name Is Dark”: “that’s what the drugs are for.”

Miss Anthropocene takes everything about Grimes the musician – her uncanny ability to build a song out of parts no one ever thought to put together before, that idiosyncratic voice, her ear for a classic melody – and concisely packages it into her most penetrating record yet. That’s the beautiful dichotomy of Grimes, equal parts stressful, grating, and difficult, yet also powerful, incisive, and illuminating. There’s no naivete apparent here; Miss Anthropocene’s deeply personal, emotionally complicated nature proves Boucher can still cut through the bullshit when she wants to. Bleak and endlessly fascinating, it’d be an essential but tough listen if not for “IDORU,” a lovely sunburst of a bookend that attempts to sweep away all those thunderheads in seven minutes of bliss. The imagery may be a little heavy – there’s literally birds chittering away as the metaphorical sun rises – but Grimes has rarely been subtle. The perfect capstone to the preceding storms, “IDORU” seems to say humanity may still be up in the air, there’s still hope for Claire Boucher after all.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2020


12259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

one more

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robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2020


17896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very nice work!!

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 23rd 2020


52736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

As a portrait of humanity at its worst, Miss Anthropocene is a rich text. Confronted with the narrative that she’s losing control of career, Grimes has turned in the tightest, darkest record of her career,




control of her career? the double career read a bit awkwardly as well.



really appreciate this review though, it's honest. with a rating that high i wasn't expecting a very objective outlook on the less flattering aspects of her career.



this one seems to be getting less polar takes than art angels so far around here but it's shocking how different the opinions on each track are from fan to fan, no one can seem to agree on whether IDORU, Darkseid, and Delete Forever are the absolute worst or absolute best songs for instance.



but yeah this is good for her, she did an okay job.

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klap
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2020


12259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

cheers pots, fixed that



yeah totally agree that overall the reception for this has been pretty similar (figuring this will end up around 3.6 or 3.7 on the site), but song-to-song everyone disagrees. kind of bizarre actually but i guess makes sense since the songs vary so wildly in tone/style but as a whole the album just feels a lot more cohesive than art angels, if that makes sense. i actually like art angels more but not sure i can articulate why - think the highs are much higher on that record

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 23rd 2020


52736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

songs vary so wildly in tone/style but as a whole the album just feels a lot more cohesive than art angels, if that makes sense




it does, i was actually just talking about that in the other thread. there is a certain dystopian vibe to it that is pervasive across most of the album that maintains a conceptual coherence even when it jumps around stylistically. the only track that really interrupts that for me is Delete Forever, and the YouTube Ad Jingle guitar bit at the beginning drives me up the fucking wall.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2020


22535 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Excellent review. Enjoyed reading + am tentatively more convinced on how well this works as a whole

" but song-to-song everyone disagrees"

Am enjoying this a lot, it reflects nicely on the scope of this material and makes it extra apparent that she took her fair share of risks here

"think the highs are much higher on that record"

Agreed, although I think the lows are a tad lower too

Digging: Bambara - Stray

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 23rd 2020


52736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

on an aside i checked this i_o collaborator on Violence out of curiosity and boy howdy do i regret it

anarchistfish
February 23rd 2020


28194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Art angels has 3 songs better than any on here

Digging: The Weeknd - After Hours

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 23rd 2020


52736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ugh

anarchistfish
February 23rd 2020


28194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

> What has unfortunately defined her career over the five years since Art Angels catapulted her into the pop stratosphere she’s been so conflicted about since bobbing down the Mississippi all those years ago, however, has been how much outside forces have enhanced that image



Maybe it's the sertraline but this sentence needs to be about one sentence longer and I can't get my head around the last phrase

OSEL
February 23rd 2020


97 Comments


excellent write up. will put off listening to this for a bit

Digging: Nicolas Jaar - Cenizas

GhostB1rd
February 23rd 2020


5719 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Considering she's a pop artist her rates on this site are actually quite high.

GhostB1rd
February 23rd 2020


5719 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The average Sput lurker 5s the trash back catalogue and says pop is for dumb people and queers.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 23rd 2020


52736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

if grimes wasn't going to be the pop star to bridge the divide for the average angsty sputnik metal/core nerd i don't know who it would possibly be

WatchItExplode
February 23rd 2020


7882 Comments


Gods I loves to sees me a klaps review

Digging: PEARS - Pears

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2020


17896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

love the last minute or so of the opener

luci
February 23rd 2020


12330 Comments


very good writeup

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2020


9420 Comments


awesome review

can't seem to land on a rating for this

Digging: Nicolas Jaar - Cenizas

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2020


43401 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

was enjoying this and then Darkseid came on ugh



she has no differential between her good and bad ideas at all huh



excellent write-up of course

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2020


22535 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Darkseid is the best track here lol how's that for a hot take boyo



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