Will Adams: This song makes me want to writhe violently on a jungle gym for hours, and I hope that makes sense because I really don’t know how else to describe it.
Iain Mew: The rhythmic intro synth line makes me picture dashing footsteps, and the track lives up to their promise of action big time. Repeated listening hasn’t unpicked the lyrics’ tight knot of horror, thrill and diffidence, but it’s perfect over such a non-stop thrill ride of a track. There’s no space to catch a breath, and it leaves behind a sequence of images that adrenaline hasn’t allowed to be processed yet.
Alfred Soto: How you respond to “Kill V. Maim” depends your tolerance for Claire Boucher’s vocals at its pipsqueak best, fucking with gender like the Raincoats did with “Lola” to incarnate a dude who thinks that riding Franz Ferdinand riffs (played by Boucher) gives him the right to do what he can.
Cassy Gress: It warms the spiny cockleburs of my heart to hear a tiny pixie voice screaming about the ever so sad plight of men who have to take responsibility for their actions. And man, when she loses the squeakiness at the bridge, along with the drums and guitars and most of everything, she suddenly turns into a 90s trance vocalist, and it’s perfect and wonderful and I just, yes, this song.
Jessica Doyle: If “Artangels” is Exhibit A in People (Who Are Done With This Precious Shit) v. Grimes (“Everything I love becomes everything I lose”: the likelihood of someone making such a statement is inversely proportional to the likelihood of its being true), then this must be Exhibit B. Over a relatively bland background she poses, struts, growls, shrieks, cheers, swoops, all for the sake of — what? Damned if I know; I’m too busy rolling my eyes at that “B-E-A-J” part. Which I have heard a lot lately, since I keep playing “Kill V. Maim” while walking around, tolerating the shrieking and swooping to get to that chorus, in which her voice sounds like it’s shredding the very air around it; and then to her whispering we can make them all go crazy like it’s a promise just for me.
Katherine St Asaph: Art Angels was one of the best albums of 2015 because any album whose sheer force of aesthetic can make a song about Al Pacino as a gender-switching, spacefaring vampire into something that large swaths of people adopt as, to paraphrase a style writer I follow, “part of them before they even knew them,” *has* to be one of the best albums of the year. And any song that combines female-fronted power-pop, steely sequencers and cheerleader chants is almost guaranteed to be one of my favorites. (I literally just got what the B-E-H-A-V-E was riffing on, and I *was* a cheerleader. R-E-S-S-I-V-E!)
Danilo Bortoli: Reading, a few months ago, what a colleague of mine had to say about Studio Ghibli films — and, incidentally, fantasy in film in general — he convinced me of the veracity of a very weird idea for me until then: fantasy is not exactly “surreal,” an escape from reality, as most people tend to believe. It’s the opposite: fantasy and creativity are, more often than not, indicative of the abundance of reality. God knows the world is a mysterious, cruel place and not even a million years of hard, dedicated study will make us able to understand even a grain of sand and its overall meaning. So I admire artists like Grimes, whose art is the musical equivalent of that long lost feeling of sincere fascination for the unknown. Which is why Claire Boucher has always been accused of appropriating scenes and cultures when, in actuality, all this time she was reframing a particular vision of herself and her identity, best seen in “Kill V. Maim,” a power pop song dangerously close to post-Treats era Sleigh Bells and thus in search of a pop identity: Fools Face circa Tell America? A pop song Billy Corgan only wishes he could write? And in a way, “Kill V. Maim” is interested in the ridicule: Boucher reaches a guttural tone in her voice, messing with whatever people consider Perfect Pop these days. Grimes has already made this pretty clear, but it should be good to say this again: what makes her work so amusing, and now, by looking at the best tracks off Art Angels separately, “Kill V. Maim” such a blast is the way it treats pop with reverence and indifference. She stopped focusing on the abstract (go listen to Visions now). Instead, Grimes uses her superhuman creativity to strip reality bare. What’s left is catharsis. And, above all, the fantastical.
Brad Shoup: It’s funny; if anyone wanted to do Oneohtrix Point Never songs right, it’d be Grimes. I guess I’m thinking of that growl, which hits an emotional tone we don’t hear enough. The propellerhead bits sound like a demo for Shampoo, the chirpy vocals work at pure sensation. She smuggles in what sounds like an indictment of male artistic entitlement, which I guess is a synecdoche.