Album of the Week: Grimes, 'Miss Anthropocene'

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Grimes, 'Miss Anthropocene'
Grimes, 'Miss Anthropocene' (4AD)
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If I didn't know any better, I'd think that Grimes believes the end of the world is coming very soon. That feeling permates through all of her new record, Miss Anthropocene.

The album is conceived as Grimes taking on several different personas of environmental destruction and apocalypse; there are much better analyses of this, such as Sasha Geffen's latest piece for our friends at City Pages. Geffen does a terrific job of breaking down the various voices - literal and figurative - that Grimes assumes throughout the record. Their piece is highly recommended, and it left me wondering what angle I could possibly take in discussing the album for The Current.

I reviewed Art Angels four years ago, an album that holds up astonishingly well - it made my top-ten list for the decade, a conclusion that would seem preordained based on the review I wrote at the time. One thing I noted was how Art Angels was a spectacular pop record that also managed to contain the undercurrents of many of the major traumas that affected our beleaguered society, whether violence, climate change, sexual harassment, or the intersections therein. All of these problems have only compounded over the ensuing four years, but Miss Anthropocene doesn't express them outright so much as it wearily sighs under their burdening weight. It's as if Grimes is saying, I don't need to tell you the ways the world is messed up when we know it already, so rather than telling, this album will show us how that feels.

There's a trope that I've always had kicking around in my head of what the last song ever written would sound like. I have a mental image of a lonely tune being strummed around one of the final campfires started by the human race. I don't know how this vision wound up in my head, but Grimes' "Delete Forever" is probably the closest I've heard to it being actually expressed in song form. It opens with suitably sad guitar strumming, eventually joined by programmed drums and instrumentation (which would be harder to pull off at a post-apocalyptic bonfire, of course) in what Grimes herself has called "a pretty bummer song" about how we pretend things are fine when they're clearly not.

This mood of melancholy resignation lingers throughout most of the record, which is not to say that it lacks bangers like Art Angels. "My Name Is Dark" in particular leaps out of the speakers, even drawing explicit connections with Grimes' influences from the '90s such as Garbage and the Smashing Pumpkins. "Violence" and "4AEM" each express similar energy, while opener "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth" demonstrates Grimes' remarkable vocal range.

Miss Anthropocene is not necessarily a happy experience, but then again, these days, what is? It's another unexpected yet striking step from one of our great auteurs.

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  • Album of the Week: Grimes, 'Art Angels' Grimes's 'Art Angels' will almost certainly go down as one of the most boundary-pushing Albums of the Week we've ever featured at The Current. It is one of the strongest, strangest and best albums of recent years.

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