Going into this album my excitement was on ten. Lead single “We Appreciate Power” has been in my weekly rotation for months now. During the promotional rollout for Miss Anthropocene Grimes let it be known that climate change would spearhead this release. As the months passed, six singles emerged. Each of them hinted at a potential opus-level album — well, other than “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth.” Hearing it open this album surprised me to say the least. Its roaring cinematic synth horns sent chills down my spine upon first listen. It reminded me a lot of the climax scene in Alex Garland’s film Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman. The Art Mix presented here delivers sharper, crisper drums and extends the track to over six minutes in length. I welcomed this edit with open arms. Yet overall the track is less a song than a motif incarnating endlessly.
Despite this intro’s odd structure, I cannot help but sing along to the Canadian pop savant’s vocalizations. Though I want more from the track lyrically, it does its job in the sonics department. As a matter of fact, much of Miss Anthropocene shines from a production standpoint. That is no surprise, however. Grimes has been at the forefront of edgy art-pop for years. If you need an example, look no further than the Bollywood-inspired “4ÆM.” Grimes masterminds each of her projects, producing, writing, performing, and co-engineering all her work. The inventive movie sample loop on this teaser track blew me away. It’s my go-to jam whilst battling Pokémon online. (Yes, ya boy’s a nerd.) Her voice glides across the beat as if she was a fallen angel, checking in on the lover she left behind. It along with “My Name is Dark” are among my all-time favorite songs.
Needless to say, I stan for Claire. Nevertheless, I must equip my critic’s cap for this one due to my general disappointment with the rest of the record. Following the release of “We Appreciate Power,” Grimes stock was higher than ever. It is one of the best songs of the contemporary pop era. The tune is electric and infectious. Her arrangement is flawless. And that bridge… Sweet Baby Jesus is it fantastic. The aforementioned songs as well as the latest single “Delete Forever” signaled to me that Grimes had fully blossomed. Yet when I pressed play on this album it left me with a slightly empty feeling. There are but 11 tracks here. Truthfully, I love that number for an album. Nevertheless, with only five new tracks, the album sounded more ambitious as a concept than a finished product. She designed each song to represent a particular apocalyptic goddess or nymph.
Unfortunately, though, if you weren’t tuning into every Grimes update over the past five years, then odds are you won’t find any semblance of a cohesive narrative. While all six teaser tracks greatly impressed me, the other five pale in comparison. “Darkseid” features a creepy, bass-heavy instrumental that I enjoy. “Violence” is a complete car banger. And “IDORU” is a sweet ode to a crush (or perhaps Elon?). Despite her many talents, Grimes continues to load a lot onto her creative plate. True love, the grieving process, and the apocalypse are a tough gumbo to pull off. She exhibits her ability to traverse various genres and styles, which is always noteworthy. However, this album’s sequence is a bumpy ride instead of a free-flowing commentary on relative reality. The sonic quality is there. The penmanship is there, too. Yet the execution tying it all together is a little shaky.
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