Friday, September 13th, 2019

Grimes & i_o – Violence

Hey, you OK Grimey?


Joshua Minsoo Kim: A nice song for the final months of the decade: a snapshot of what a Grimes song from 2010 would sound like in 2019, and how much the indie pop landscape has changed since. Even the fact I can call this indie pop is worth noting.

Tim de Reuse: A lot has happened since 2012, but Claire Boucher’s sound palette hasn’t budged. In a post-Stranger Things world, more awash than ever in the sleek, comforting sci-fi of the misremembered eighties, what distinguishes Grimes other than her reverb-drenched, incomprehensible vocals?

Alfred Soto: As pop has moved toward accommodating the prairie-like expanses opened by her manipulation of electronics, Grimes refuses to develop this prairie. It remains untouched, beautiful and even dangerous. Blank too, which might be the point.

Ian Mathers: Grimes’ work always has ~interesting conceptual underpinnings~ (or w/e), but Art Angels took off because it had bops, too. Doesn’t mean the earlier albums were bad — just that for some of us the songs weren’t really there until stuff like “Flesh Without Blood” and (especially) “California.” The Elon Musk/anti-union/etc stuff is bad, sure, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for that coloring their reception of new Grimes, but even so “Violence” is just a pleasant-sounding nothing. If you switched the vocals to wordless, or even removed them entirely, you’d still get most of the good stuff, and “a nice synth pop instrumental” isn’t what I want from Grimes.

Kayla Beardslee: I didn’t want this. I didn’t want to care about (sigh) c, not after observing the exhausting public image she’s woven for herself, but goddamn, this beat is slick. I do wish that the lyrics were more detailed and less repetitive, but still, this is pure ear candy, and I keep finding new things to appreciate about the layering of the synths on each listen.

Isabel Cole: I was really hoping North America’s most famous hentai fan would at least have the decency to start sucking now that it’s become impossible to ignore how embarrassing she is, but alas, I hit play and immediately remembered why anyone gave a shit about her in the first place. Fuck, I love this: seductive and sinister, building from the start a tension that never resolves, with a pulse that surrounds you, inspiring awe and claustrophobia, like a heartbeat from inside the heart. It’s so stupidly, irresistibly gorgeous that the lyrics are almost beside the point — my favorite vocal touches are when her taffy-pull soprano drones as in an emergency signal or spurts upward wordlessly like the injured cry of some mythological bird — but I think they work too, and that Reddit-style theorizing about whether they’re “really” about climate change misses the source of their effectiveness, which is exactly that combination of opacity and visceral resonance that lets the song feel so encompassing. It suggests its most potent argument: not “about” toxic relationships or a damaged earth, but concerned with the issues of power, visibility, desire, and desperation with which the identical structures undergirding both situations are entwined. My impulse here was to close with “Not that I care; mostly this just fucking slaps,” but, jeez, doesn’t that feel just a little telling?

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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One Response to “Grimes & i_o – Violence”

  1. I think there are a lot of complaints that can be made about Grimes – but the one about her sound palette “not budging” I just don’t understand. Art Angels was a complete 180-turn from Visions, and her palette actually shifts wildly *within* the album itself (I mean… it goes from California directly into SCREAM…).

    Even We Appreciate Power represented a shift – its industrial-flavored synthpop was not something she had tried before.

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