Grimes: Miss Anthropocene review – Eye-opening reflection on human extinction
In recent years, the life and times of Canadian electro artist Grimes, aka Claire Boucher, has overshadowed her musical output, thanks to her relationship with Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, her fascination with artificial intelligence and her feud with rapper Azealia Banks.
However, if you’re looking for a dud of an album to match the ridiculous coverage of her personal life, you will be disappointed.
On her conceptual fifth album, Grimes ditches the colourful pop facade of 2015’s sublimely manic Art Angels and delivers a frightening look at the many shades of human extinction in beautiful washes of nu-metal and cold electronica.
So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth introduces this new era in a cosmic descension that’s bolstered by her distinctive layered vocals and floating synths. Like a meteor hurtling through space, she recounts a love that’s so consuming, it rips her from her home and pulls her down to earth. New to this planet, she witnesses human atrocities through the fresh perspective of an “anthropomorphic goddess of climate change”.
While her 2019 single We Appreciate Power uses an industrial soundscape to delve into the threat of an AI takeover, Grimes’s insight into human pain is where she finds her true strengths.
Written with Soundcloud rap sensations Lil Peep and Juice WRLD in mind, who both died by overdose at the age of 21, the string-led Delete Forever carries a fragility that can be lost in headlines surrounding addiction. Similarly, the despondency of My Name is Dark gives empathy to those society has gleefully written off and You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around lends a voice to those who are barely holding on.
Presenting her relationship with earth as an abusive one, Violence and IDORU are twisted love songs sung by the imprisoned. “You wanna make me bad, make me bad and I like it like that, and I like it like that,” she sings on Violence, like a pouting pop icon.
On an album full of subdued beats and chaotic themes, the Bollywood-inspired 4ÆM provides some light relief as it unexpectedly branches off into a drum and bass whirlwind, while dealing with the familiar fallout caused by the demon drink.
By removing herself from the mortal world, Grimes holds up a mirror to mankind and with savage accuracy, reflecting the clawed desperation that we call reality. What could have been an eye-rolling excursion in the wrong hands is an eye-opening one instead.