Exclaim!

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:

Pop and Rock, Part Two Page 8

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:
1. Grimes
Visions
(Arbutus)

Grimes has been caught wondering aloud why she gets pegged as an infantile naf: and yet on the 90-second track that opens this, her international pop breakthrough, Montreal-via-Vancouver's Clare Boucher comes off like a wide-eyed, helium-voiced anime heroine. Yes, her voice is a mix of an '80s pop moppet and a new age flake. And yes, that heinous album cover, her fashion choices, her videos, her interviews and her on-stage banter are, more often than not, insipid. So perhaps Visions' greatest strength is that we're able to look past all that and discover a dense, layered masterpiece that, like Bjrk, stems from a pop history alien to rockists and preachers of punk orthodoxy. Grimes (the artist, as opposed to what may have been Boucher's personal experience) was born of Kraftwerk and Nina Hagen, grew up on Madonna and Mary J. Blige, and attended more than a few raves and loft parties before holing up in her bedroom and blacking out the windows to imagine the dreamscapes heard here. It's the polar opposite of what the CanRock curmudgeons tell us Canada sounds like, and yet it is clearly the sound of a lonely Canadian winter spent fantasizing of escape, of connection, of sunshine, of reimagining the self — both metaphorically and, in the case of Grimes's voice, the physical form as well. Grimes is all about transformation, not unlike Prince in his prime; like that artist, she is a solitary studio entity buried in beats, role play and libidinous exorcism. Visions is not just the best pop album of 2012, it's also the best album that sounds like 2012, of aiming to find beauty in chaos, of forging an uncertain future, of navigating digital landscapes, of communication beyond words. Oh yeah: and of Canadian artists continuing to take over the world, one landmark album at a time.
Michael Barclay



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