It’s been amazing to watch how one Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, has captivated the blog-o-sphere one mp3 at a time. Kind of a blend of 21st century Bjork and Swedish electro-Balearic pop (re: Sincerely Yours signees), with a lot of originality thrown in, Grimes’s sweetly lisped vocals provide the perfect glue between the harsh, mechanical beats and the ears of her listeners.
Visions has the designation of being one of the most hyped-up albums of 2012 and it seems to be make-or-break, watershed album for Boucher — and boy, does she deliver! No doubt it’s not perfect album, but it’s great enough to be considered one of the best of records of the year (and probably the best one released thus far). Since this is my first record review in a long, long time, I decided to just post my thoughts, track-by-track, on the record (you know, kinda work-up to writing full reviews). So here is my running review of Visions:
- “Infinite = Without Fulfillment (Intro)” // A little bit of a nihilist song-title methinks. A good mood-setter. For the uninitiated, gives you a feel of what you are about to experience.
- “Genesis” // Goes straight to what Claire does best: harmonizing with herself through deep echo (kind of like a musical round almost). Probably the most palatable Grimes song I have heard (tying with “Rosa” and “Vanessa”). Nothing too spectacular but a good start.
- “Oblivion” // A fucking jam. Light electro-timpani taps – matches the arpeggio singing at the end of each line. Nod to the 50s girl groups (w/ the descending “La La La La” harmonies). Bridge is a little weak – would have been a nice 3 minute track rather than 4 min.
- “Eight” // Sounds like a cut from her past album Halifax rather than new material. Weird ass pitch shifted vocals at the start – experimental pop (Bjork-like too, with the metallic vocal beat).
- “Circumambient” // A dumbed down RxRy beat at intro (floating static charges with deep-bass rumblings). Feels so natural though when Grimes enters – like the beat could only just work for her. FUCKING LOVE THE DELAYED ECHO HARMONIES (what made tracks like “Crystal Ball” such a favorite).
- “Vowels = Space and Time” // A Balearic blend (the chime-y synth is à la jj, the cut up, siren like, chirping in the background is straight up ceo) that is amazing. Really hitting her stride with this one.
- “Visiting Statue” // Keeps you on your toes, toggling between sub-two minute tracks with five minute epics. Sometimes I wish she would lengthy the short songs (like this one) and cut some of the longer ones.
- “Be a Body” // About as close to a sex-you-up song Grimes has produced (re: song title). Beat is what’s interesting on this track – it’s all over the place while keeping the same feel (sometimes emphasizing the electro-synth flurries, at other times, bringing out the heavy bass). A technique from classical music: variations on a theme.
- “Colour of Moonlight (Antichus)” (ft. Doldrums) // Beat is eerily similar to Prince’s “When Doves Cry” sped up by about 50%. Love the vocoder-like effect at the 1:30 mark on her vocals (kind of reminds me of HEALTH’s Zoothorn thing) – wish I heard more of that. Like a good version of autotune.
- “Symphonia IX (My Wait is U)” // Another kind of Balearic intro with electro-percussion bubbling up to the surface. Grimes’s voice is pitch-shifted down – a first for a change – and harmonizes at the 1:20 mark with her typical voice. Her version of a “ballad.” Compared to the others, this one stands out as the most different. Very beautiful. Switch gears with 1:20 remaining (tension-filled chords/progressions): where dreams turn to nightmares.
- “Nightmusic” (ft. Majical Cloudz) // Thought the haunting ending of “Syphonia IX” would transition into “Nightmusic” (seems appropriate given the title), but not really… Probably the weakest track in the bunch – nothing particular new other than the spoken word section near the 1:30 mark – and at a length of 5 minutes (the second longest in the album), it gets kind of grinding starting at the midway mark. Ending is like a rehashing of a section of The Knife’s opera Tomorrow, In a Year.
- “Skin” // Muted, electro-tympani taps just like with “Oblivion.” Another ballad. The longest song (6 minutes), but at least it changes styles several times, unlike “Nightmusic,” so that it all sounds fresh.
- “Know the Way (Outro)” // Soothing closing – goes back to her bread & butter: split harmonies. Great ending!