Like assholes, everyone has an opinion—of Lana del Rey. Mine: She’s actually a David Lynch-engineered femmebot designed to plug a Twin Peaks reality TV spinoff, The Voice (of Laura Palmer). Ultimately, she’s not worth paying attention to, but for the meteoric rise that blog buzz and massive major label backing have afforded her. The real travesty is that there are artists who deserve such a rise. You’re not likely to see 23-year-old Claire Boucher (Grimes) jockeying the late-night circuit for mass adoration—just yet—but the loop-savvy singer has pulled a del Rey-worthy coup of blog hype in advance of her new record Visions.
OK, so it’s kind of an apples-and-oranges thing, but while the public continues to scramble for repackaged versions of Nancy Sinatra, there are all kinds of artists reinventing the female voice, from Fever Ray’s Karin Dreijer Andersson to Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano. And it’s right between these two that Grimes falls. The voice, in Boucher’s case, is only one of her strongest tools and, when run through her processors and electronic doodads, is used more as a textural feature than a melodic centerpiece. This is not to say that Visions is not melodic though. Two of the album’s first three tracks are some of the stickiest pop you’re likely to hear all year. “Genesis” floats in on a bed of M83-worthy synthesizers before Boucher begins stacking vocal lines, harmonizing with herself and letting lyrics trail off with delay before the beat drops. It’s worth watching a YouTube video of her performing the track solo to properly appreciate the dexterity involved. No matter if you can’t make out a word she’s singing; the album is, after all, self-described by Boucher as “post-internet,” whatever that means. Ultimately
“Oblivion” gives “Genesis” a solid run for the album’s megahit, full of echo-drenched la-la-la’s and coy Madonna sighs. Not to mention more incessantly danceable synthetic drum beats. It’s worth listening on, though, cause Visions is full of these tightly wound electro-pop gems. It’s the kind of stuff that makes perfect sense pumped through stereo speakers in a room full of people and will continue to reveal new layers on every listen played through a good pair of headphones. Ultimately, this is pop music that is as accessible as it is inventive and, most importantly, won’t talk down to you.