A synth sound spirals in at the start, the muted guitars building under long, open vowel croons, with a kaleidoscope of claps and knocks rising now around it all, breaking open with a whip-crack: the surfy guitars strumming a familiar progression over thumping, wide drums and those vocals—those vocals that have been called breathy, called ethereal, called every manic, pixie experimental verb—now those vocals break in clear and strong and high in the mix. Grimes is back.
It’s been a long wait for a lot of fans, saved from their desert wanderings by the sudden appearance of a two-part music video for “Flesh Without Blood” and “Life in the Vivid Dream,” two tracks off the Canadian artists impending album. It’s been worth the wait.
Plenty of YouTube comments have been made already: it’s too pop, too slick, too polished or it’s not experimental enough! Those are all statements surely based in reality, and the music resembles all those remarks. But I absolutely believe it’s something to be celebrated. And not just ’cause the song is a feel-good banger. It’s because more than any artist I’m into these days, Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) is in control of her sound. Recording her early work herself, she’s never hidden how passionate she is about learning new things about recording, tracking and mixing. How hands on she wants to be with her own creative process. With stories about how male dominated the recording industry can be, especially behind the scenes, and how many artists—especially female ones—are taking matters into their own hands, Grimes’ work is inspiring. It’s empowering. And it passes the all important test: it’s fucking great.
Sure it’s clearer, sure it’s poppier—but it’s a lead single. Albums have to sell for artists to keep making music, that’s reality. And speaking of REALiTi… Grimes scrapped an entire album before this, which at least included that helluva song, so one would expect we’re looking the truest possible artistic outcome. With her 2012 breakout, Visions, Boucher was showered in praise of the most superlative nature, and it looks like the space and time she’s taken to work on her follow-up hasn’t been wasted. You claw, you fight, you lose… but not this time.
Now if November 6th would hurry up and get here…