After five years of waiting Grimes has finally released the follow-up to 2015’s Art Angels. Miss Anthropocene arrives with Grimes in a very different position. She’s become the centre of a media circus thanks to a high profile relationship that’s had some (unfairly) questioning her ability to make great music.
To be fair, the lead-up to Miss Anthropocene has been somewhat confusing. She’s billed it as a loose concept album about the God of climate change, based on Greek mythology. Each single so far has been very different with the experimentalism front-and-centre. It’s going to be an interesting listen to say the least.
So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth
When So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth dropped as one of the early singles from the album it felt a little too ambient to wash away the non-music related attention Grimes was receiving. In the context of the record though it’s a refreshing, buoyant entrance into an album that immediately presents as darker and more complex than Art Angels.
We continue descending into the darkness with this damning piece. The beat throbs while alien-like voices swell around the background. It’s one of the most other-wordly songs she’s ever made, successfully creating a space-like atmosphere. “We don’t move our bodies anymore,” she sings as the song’s hook (if you could call it that). As a standalone track it would be glossed over but you get the feeling it’s part of something greater.
Delete Forever is one of the best singles Grimes has ever released, even if it does sound like an Oasis song. It’s the album’s first sign of humanity with Grimes’ emotionally fragile voice sings things like, “I see everything.” The song was written after the death of Lil Peep and you can hear the freshness of the situation. Grimes’ thoughts are unfiltered and brash – “I can’t see above it, guess I fucking love it.”
Violence made us guess Miss Anthropocene was going to be an aggressive Grimes album but this is the first sign of the toughness. Like much of the rollout of this album, Violence’s release was somewhat clouded by the media circus surrounding her but it goes hard. It’s a post-EDM, head-banger that only Grimes could convincingly commit to.
The way Grimes uses her vocals throughout this album is stunning. They begin circling a tribal beat here and it feels both haunting and angelic. Drum ’n’ bass was not something we were expecting from here but she whips up a chaotic frenzy that only creates calm with those vocal runs. This album has definitely moved heavily away from Art Angels pop roots but she can’t help but throw is an A+ topline every now and then and there’s one on display here.
This album is so often looking for something new to believe in and New Gods is the centrepiece of that notion. “Hands reaching out for new gods, you can’t give me what I want,” she sings as a cinematic instrumental rouses in the background. She’s never been this climatic with her soundscapes but there’s something score-like about the way she’s put together this album. New Gods is a particularly stirring moment.
My Name Is Dark
We know it and we love it. Art Angels procreated with a heavy metal band and this is what came from it. It’s equally fragile and demonic quickly flicking from verses of clarity to muddied, powerful choruses.
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around
You’d think that an album based on fantistical mythology would fail to connect on a human level but this whole thing is surprisingly human. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around touches on notions of suicide and religion with Grimes singing, “I shot myself yesterday, got to heaven anyway.” It’s the most emotional moment on the album, driven by some A-grade pop writing. She may try to veer hard into experimentalism but she can’t stay away. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around is absolutely brilliant.
Before The Fever
At this point, I’ve forgotten the concept and I’m just enjoying an album that is actually really impressive. Before The Fever is apocalyptic with Grimes singing, “Guess that’s the sound of the end of the world.” Her voice is manipulated and distant, steering away from that human touch that has tugged at our heartstrings for most of the album. Still, this is a stirring piece of music that fizzles out into nothing.
This feels like a rebirth. Birds are chirping and synths are blaring. Grimes’ heavenly voice has reappeared and I’m gearing up for heaven. “I feel something,” she sings as drums come in and her voice becomes more recognisable. The chorus of this is so beautiful it feels eternal. I’m honestly flawed by how much humanity is in this album which may sound ridiculous given it was made by a human. It’s a genuinely emotional record, intricately crafted by an artist who understands the fine line between connection and experimentation.
We Appreciate Power
If the last song was the album closer this is the credits. It’s mostly detached from the narrative and also feels a little aggressive after the soft beauty of the previous few songs. It is, however, a good reminder than We Appreciate Power absolutely slaps in the weirdest and wildest of ways.
This album has been such a ride but It’s ultimately made me re-evaluate my growing dissatisfaction with Grimes’ music. Hearing the singles stitched together in this sometimes-confusing, often-stirring narrative makes them flourish.
It’s different to ‘Art Angels’ but it’s not the dramatic departure some were expecting. She’s still got a sharp pop pen and she puts it to paper at multiple times on this record. So much so that a number of these songs are her most accessible to date.
Miss Anthropocene is a great album. More concise and cohesive than she’s ever been and emotive in ways we didn’t think possible. Despite the media surrounding Grimes right now, we haven’t lost her. She’s still a challenging, present and flawed artist that rides in her own lane.