Lavin Rant: Grimes “Visions”

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by Mike Lavin

An unmistakeable falsetto, rattling beats, futuristic textures of instrumentation, and an overall feeling of being mixed by an android makes Claire Boucher’s, mostly know as Grimes, electropop infused Visions a trip through a new breed of pop music. Everything about Visions is sugar-coated in pop sensibilities and its ability to catch your attention and make you keep coming back for more, but is there any real substance behind all these caustic beats and sweet candy vocals? There is some sophistication behind Boucher’s pop sensibilities; there is a Japanese symbol in the title of one of the highlights in Visions, “Be a Body (??)”, which translated to “wabi sabi” which means “an aesthetic centered on the acceptance of the imperfection and transience of all things.” (Thanks, Shimer.edu).

The numerous amounts of interesting little symbols and multi-language touches Boucher places on her album artwork got me in such a curious mood to dissect it. A menacing skull spitting what looks like a winding path with a mess of random objects including a bow tie, an eye, and other details. I’ve digged deep into the internet to uncover what non-Western script is used on the cover, but nothing has come up, but the mystique is making the experience more enjoyable as I attempt to interpret some of the symbols through Boucher’s music. The more Eastern influenced script on the cover really transcends through the music with the mood being a lot more Eastern-flavored attributed to Boucher’s vocal range which is incredibly high relating to a lot of the Korean and Japanese female pop groups singing in such a high pitch. The instrumentation has Eastern-sounding musicianship littering it; “Genesis” has those traditional Chinese keyboards you associate Chinese temples to used through interesting electronic sounds.

Visions is like a new breed of pop music delving off of the immense dabbling of futuristic noises a lot like Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never and recently reviewed John Talabot. “Eight” has Boucher reaching extreme heights in her vocal range sounding like those Japanese and Korean pop singers with this kind of mechanized voice flowing through the song as a sort of pace-maker for the entirety of the song which flows into “Cirumambient”, a mildly spacey trip into a sort of space station with an immensely addicting hook. Boucher has a great ability to simply use her voice to have a great hook like on the dancey “Vowels = space and time” and “Be a Body.”


A lot of Boucher’s beats are a little too simple and have an annoyance factor attributed to them, for example the intro “Infinite = Without Fulfillment” is a little to abrasive and high-strung for the rest of some of the moods associated with the rest of the tunes on Visions. Though, Visions is a far superior successor to Boucher’s sophomore release Halfaxa, I feel some of the aesthetics used on Halfaxa are reused here on Visions, but a lot more developed into something much more enjoyable, which of course is always a good thing in the realm of music.

Perhaps, Visions is a refinement of pop’s ability to be simply weird and more cutting-edge. Though, as I’m sure Boucher knows, it isn’t perfect (hence the Japanese symbol mentioned at the beginning of this review). Through this kind of robotic-induced electropop, Boucher finds herself in the midst of something promising and fulfilling; music is findind itself to be more and more electronically driven as rock diehards find themselves actual getting into that dubstep band and hip-hop beats aren’t using those jazzy instruments anymore, instead caustic synths and electronic-driven beats. Visions might very much be a predecessor to a more artistically driven pop age.