Grimes: Art Angels (4AD) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Art Angels


Nov 11, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Art Angels, Grimes’ long awaited follow up to 2011’s Visions, was already a story months before its release. A rumor first claimed that Grimesaka Claire Boucherscrapped the album entirely in the aftermath of her fans’ response to last year’s single, “Go,” but she later doubled back, citing her own reasons for launching a new direction. Either way, such a public display of a work in process is risky business. Intentionally or not, Boucher was playing a game with musical expectations.

Which might explain why Art Angels is so satisfying. In the face of such expectations, Grimes steps up to the intersection of art weirdness and mainstream pop. But instead of crossing the intersection completely, the music jumps back and forth, and the majority of Art Angels tracks fall somewhere in between. Take the first single, “Flesh Without Blood.” Grimes gets the closest to a breakout pop single here with trendy bass thumps and a sugary melody, but she still floats into her own ethereal space, piercing the song’s structure with her signature vocal stunts. Even Art Angel‘s slower moments, like the near-perfect “Easily,” carry a steady momentum that keeps the energy rising.

In a lot of ways, it is a pretty big leap from the ghostly Visions, and yet her playful musical strength remains consistent and familiar. The playfulness is key, because a lot of Art Angels strengths rest on its experimental qualities. It feels like an art project, exploring new sounds and structures that are more familiar to mainstream audiences, but completely reinvented in Grimes’ aesthetic. Even though these are clear pop songs, there are no hooks but rather a sense of self-confidence and wholeness. Grimes manages to face mounting hype with a skillful redefinition of boundaries. It may be new territory, but she’s navigating it pretty damn well. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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