Artists Of The Year

CMU Artists Of The Year 2012: Grimes

By | Published on Thursday 20 December 2012


Pop’s grey post-Guetta colour-scheme was given a neon do-over this year by one Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, whose third LP ‘Visions’ was (and just ask any fan/critic compiling an end-of-2012 shortlist for confirmation of this) one of the annum’s most notable releases.

‘Visions’, when it was unleashed in January, came affixed with a ‘post-internet’ Post-it, a by-phrase meaning a live-wired symbiosis between artist and machine, a ‘schizophrenic’ switchboard of ideas and inspirations. And if that’s what ‘post-internet pop’ actually is – and who really knows – then ‘Visions’ is a first. A manic mechanism of preset beats, starlight synths and Boucher’s doll-like vox, it’s essentially nothing lesser or greater than a peerless pop record that plays straight to the pleasure centre.

A “super unpopular and weird” ex-neuroscience scholar, failed shipwright and anti-poster girl for Montreal’s frigid EDM scene, Boucher was and is by no means a model popstar. She moves against the dead-eyed chart automatons – who (bar Cheryl, that is) often still pretend that their art isn’t artifice, and that the tracks they’ve been given are actually autobiographical – in that she’s happy to talk about Grimes as a “brand”, and a (quite literally) self-styled one at that. Setting her even farther apart in terms of trends is that she’d rather be seen in boxy thrift garb than, say, a “leather bathing suit”, presenting Grimes as primarily a cerebral mind-creature, rather than just a body.

Which isn’t to say the physical, feminine self is effaced from Grimes’ music, far from it. Whilst ‘Visions’ tracks like ‘Oblivion’ may seem airy and “infantilised”, Boucher says ‘Oblivion’, for one, is about an instance in which she was sexually assaulted. It’s thus all the braver in showing its frailty, and marks Boucher out as a far more significant, sincere artist than many – having only its video to go by – give her credit for.