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KEITH HARING AT THE DE YOUNG

A quick look at the de Young’s massive new Keith Haring retrospective, The Political Line. Focusing on Haring’s more deliberately political works, the pieces take on consumer culture, technology, sexuality, and racism head on, and span the length of Keith’s short but prolific career.

GRIMES’ VISIONS

Grimes

So I know it’s not really in any music journalist’s best interest to gush about another music journalist’s reviews, but Scott over at No Genre did a hell of a job summing up what’s so cool about Grimes excellent new album, Visions. You should probably just read it yourself, but to paraphrase, the review made the case that Visions manages to be transcendent because it’s an album that can be everything to everybody. It’s full of big, satisfying melodies and hooky, bite size pop songs. It’s completely, compulsively listenable in the way you wish Top 40 was.

And yet, those same songs are an exercise in building rich sonic textures, and their sheer pop appeal obscures just how deeply evocative and thoughtfully constructed each song is. An arsenal of analog synths and layers of ethereal melody make Visions a record that keeps unfolding itself with every listen. It feels fresh and revelatory even as it evokes ’80s nostalgia. It’s haunting and eerie even when it feels girly and fluffy, and there’s even a semi-based rap verse to close things out. Suffice to say that Grimes, the alias of Montreal-based singer and songwriter Claire Boucher, is a project that hits home on a lot of levels.


Download: Grimes – “Vowels = Space and Time”

Picking a song out as somehow representative of the record is a strange challenge. The spacey, anthemic “Genesis”, and the slick shuffle of “Oblivion” have probably received the most attention, and both convey a lot about what makes Grimes so exciting. Both feel personal and ambiguous, with only snippets of lyrical themes like “I see you on a dark night” or “my heart will never feel” to clue us into whether Boucher is singing about heartbreak or ecstasy. Both would sound equally at home in a massive rave or a lonely basement. Both sound a lot like a more goth Little Dragon, a future-funk version of Lykke Li, or Björk if she had been really into ’80s new wave.

Grimes performing “Genesis” for Yours Truly

That those two songs, and really every song on Visions fade seamlessly into the next is a testament to just how cohesive and hypnotic the record is. But that’s also not to say it lacks variety or depth. Visions keeps a consistent flow throughout, despite dipping its toes in a lot of places, from the bracing, robotic weirdness of “Eight” to the almost radio-ready bounce of “Vowels = Space and Time” or “Be a Body”. There are sprawling six minute ballads and 90 second interludes that feel tantalizingly short. But it’s all in service of keeping a groove, a rhythm that seems to stay constant, even as the tempo or feel changes. If Visions gets labelled the first great indie album of 2012– and it probably will– it’ll be well deserved.


Download: Grimes – “Oblivion”




  • http://www.nogenremusic.com Scott

    This is ridiculously flattering. Especially since I had a lot of second thoughts about the slightly gimmicky form it ended up in. But I’m thrilled you liked it.

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