Sam Farrell, Arts & Entertainment Editor.
With her highly publicised relationship with technology innovator Elon Musk and the announcement that this power couple are having their first child together, it appears that musician Grimes is no longer just known for her avant-garde yet somewhat accessible approach to pop music. With this added publicity, the pressure is really on for the album fans have waited five years for. With Miss Anthropocene, Grimes takes us on a journey of an anthropomorphic goddess of climate change that should engage listeners both old and new.
The album begins with the ethereal and ever-so-soothing ‘So Heavy I Fell through the Earth’; it introduces us to this bleak world with gliding, lighter-than-air vocals and atmospheric production intricacies which we’ve come to expect from Grimes. The world that she creates on this track is easy to get lost in until you have no choice but to succumb to the impending doom. The darkness is exacerbated on the following track ‘Darkseid’, with its pulsing bass and drum loops, accompanied with the aggressive vocals of Chinese rap artist 潘PAN that intensely set the dystopian landscape of a world ravaged by climate change.
‘Delete Forever’ is an interesting departure from Grimes’ typical artistry, both sonically and lyrically. There are no added effects or highly altered vocals as she pours her heart over an acoustic guitar about the friends she has lost to heroin. With a violin and banjo providing additional instrumentation, Grimes proves she is adept with arranging such natural instrumentation. The simplistic storytelling in her song-writing serves her well in conveying the emotional impact of grieving such losses. ‘Violence’ is a throbbing synth-pop banger that brings much needed fun to the album with its danceable groove, while still complementing the dark nature of the record. ‘4ÆM’ comes as return to the musician’s more abstract roots, including her signature high pitched vocals. The placid and atmospheric production is consistently disrupted with the racing drum & bass hook that keeps the album from being all doom and gloom, even if not to the extent of the previous song.
‘New Gods’ sees Grimes taking yet another risk as she is driving the song with raw emotion in her voice. This ballad consists of her crooning in a stream of consciousness as she ponders what gods are left to be discovered after the old ones destroy the Earth. It’s a depressing, existential thought that is well executed here. ‘My Name is Dark’ is essentially the ‘Kill V. Maim’ of this record with its searing, grungy guitar chords and lyrics about not only acknowledging your dark side, but embracing it too. The grungy vibe extends to the next track ‘You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around’ as she assumes the role of an angel who kills herself, wakes up in Heaven and pissed off about not remaining dead. The infectious rhythm of such a serious topic still makes this an enjoyable cut off the album.
‘Before the Fever’ has Grimes singing in her lowest register about the inevitability of death and destruction of climate change. The lyrics are a little too on the nose compared to her other work and there’s very little appeal in its moody production, making it the one to skip on the album. Nevertheless, the album ends on a high with the anthemic ‘IDORU’. The message is simple: in times of such fear and threat, hope is what we should hold on to. This hopeful tone is prominent with woodwind chords, pulsing synths and the repetition of lyrics such as “We can play a beautiful game.”
Overall, a body of work well worth the anticipation, in which the risks in story-telling, topics and production most definitely pay off.