For the length of her career, Grimes has rarely broken away from a dream-pop aesthetic. A lot of the time Claire Boucher’s vocals blended with the production until the two were indistinguishable.
However with Art Angels, we get a different look at Grimes, as she uses the production as a podium to project from, rather than something to get lost in it. The opening track, Laughing and Not Being Normal, builds with pulsating strings accented by piano before giving the floor to Claire’s floating vocals. This track standouts against an album primarily composed of dance pop. There’s an abrupt transition between the first and second track, as California establishes snappy drums and upbeat guitar that reappear throughout the album. We also get to get to hear Claire for the first time, as the crisp production on her lyrics allow her to impart herself onto the music.
Claire sings, “you only like me when you think I’m looking sad” which feels like a response to the criticism Grimes received from blogs and fans for moving away from a dream pop style on her last single Go. On Easily, Grimes expresses dissatisfaction with people who attach on to her because of her fame. And on Butterfly, the albums final and most diverse track, Grimes tells fans “If you’re looking for a dream girl/ I’ll never be your dream girl,” which feels as both a statement that she’s moving on from Dream Pop, and that she may never meet the traditional standards demanded of a pop star.
Claire Boucher is far too artsy and talented to be overshadowed by the production anymore. Of course some fans will be disappointed in the more up tempo shift, but in the words of Jay-Z, “you want my old shit, buy my old album.”