The path leading up to Grimes’ fourth album, Art Angels, has been a bit of a winding one. Last summer, she followed up her 2012 breakthrough Visions with “Go,” a polarizing EDM-pop banger with a legit drop that she’d originally written for Rihanna, and many fans were not so happy about it. Then, she announced that she was scrapping the version of the album she’d been working on — because “it sucked” and “was depressing,” emphatically not because of the negative reaction to “Go” — and everything she said about it after that seemed to indicate that it could either be absolutely brilliant or a total mess. It’s all “real instruments!” Half of the tracks are diss tracks! There’s a nu-metal track with a Taiwanese rapper! The whole thing was inspired by Billy Joel! There’s a song about a gender-fluid vampire Al Pacino! That cover art!
Now, after all that, we’re finally hearing the first piece of actual recorded music — actually two songs, “Flesh Without Blood” and “Life In The Vivid Dream.” And let me get this out of the way right now: “Flesh Without Blood” is a straight-up pop song, with a bratty electric guitar riff and a chorus that’ll lodge itself into your brain. It’s good! Even beyond “Go” and her songs with Jack Antonoff, Grimes has never been shy about her love for mainstream pop music — remember when she ruffled all those cool kid feathers by playing Taylor Swift and Mariah Carey at a Boiler Room set? — and underneath all of the loops and layers and weirdness, Visions was a record full of pop songs. She’s good at writing pop songs! But she’s still Grimes, so even when she’s making “conventional” pop music, her voice is slathered in reverb and echoing all over itself, and there are all these weird little touches around the edges of the production, like the song’s plasticky surface got a bit melted and warped.
The track debuted as BBC Radio 1’s Hottest Record, and Grimes hopped on the phone for an interview. She revealed that the album will be out next Friday (11/6). There are two songs with featured vocalists: One with Janelle Monae (!) that was recorded at Wondaland Studios, and another previously discussed one with Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes.
And while the songs here may be more conventional, the video is kind of bonkers. Grimes directed and edited the whole thing herself, and she trots out all of the alter egos she’s been talking about in interviews. One’s a bloodythirsty angel, one’s a cyberpunk gamer, one’s a purple-wigged Victorian lady, etc., and they all have names like “Roccoco Basilisk” and “Screechy Bat.” Grimes plays all of them herself, wearing various outlandish costumes, and they all look kind of like anime characters, and angel Grimes is maybe trying to murder Victorian Grimes using a voodoo doll? It’s all fairly over-the-top and ridiculous, and I’m not entirely sure if I’m into it or not, but you should probably just watch and check out the tracklist below.
+ fyi – every song on this album is a completely different style, so flesh isn't a 'representation' of everything, just a taste of a vibe
— grimes (@Grimezsz) October 26, 2015
01 “Laughing And Not Being Normal”
03 “SCREAM” (Feat. Aristophanes)
04 “Flesh Without Blood”
05 “Belly Of The Beat”
06 “Kill V. Maim”
11 “World Princess Part II”
12 “Venus Fly” (Feat. Janelle Monáe)
13 “Life In The Vivid Dream”