Grimes reveals darker side on Miss Anthropocene, an album that explores the allure of destruction

The cutesy, uber-pop Grimes is gone, and in her place is a goddess of destruction. Grimes reveled in her newfound power and explored her new musical style in her latest album Miss Anthropocene.

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Addie Bushnell, Arts Reporter

Grimes’ newest album Miss Anthropocene, which dropped Feb. 21, introduces a new Grimes, born from the darkness of fame and the loneliness of the creative process.

The album resulted from a decision to steep her new music in the cynicism she displays in her public persona, something she often didn’t do in past albums, including Art Angels, which catapulted her into stardom in 2015.

Miss Anthropocene is intended to be a concept album that explores the environmental crisis. In an interview with WSJ Magazine, Grimes revealed that the album centers around the character of an “anthropomorphic Goddess of Climate Change,” who spreads her doom throughout the track list.

The opening track, “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth”, is a six-minute epic that sets the mood for the album: ethereal and gloomy. Grimes’ ambient, echoing vocals float above a gritty beat and an ominous electronic riff reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity. The song is ambitious, but undeniably listenable. Despite the length, the song flies by.

In “My Name is Dark”, Grimes’ sings “imminent annihilation is so dope.” The track is a cacophony of strange sounds, but Grimes’ weaves them into a catchy pop tune.

True to her own signature style, Grimes’ Miss Anthropocene is more interested in the texture of the vocals than in the lyrics themselves. The often indecipherable words add a sense of mystery to the album, as if Grimes is speaking a language that we, the listeners, aren’t privy to.

It often takes several listens to finally get the song to reveal itself, which forces the listener to get up close and personal with the material. On tracks like “New Gods” and “4 AM”, Grimes amped up the ambient vocals, a move that results in haunting, frenzied compositions that don’t need lyrics to have their intended effect on the listener.

The intended concept of the album gets slightly lost at times — the high fantasy themes become hard to follow, and the vague focus on the environment starts to feel distant as the album became more intimate in tracks like “Delete Forever” and “You’ll miss me when I’m not around”. While the allure of darkness and destruction remains a strong theme, it becomes clear as the album progresses that it has less to do with climate change and more to do with Grimes’ personal life.

On “Violence” —an absolutely superb track— Grimes’ explores the complicated realities of domestic violence within a relationship. “You want to make me bad and I like it like that,” she sings. The driving beat lets up at times to allow the vocals to shine, before falling back into the rhythm with a satisfying drop.

There is a bit of the old Grimes on this album — her high, cutesy vocals and ultra-poppy hooks make an appearance on tracks like IDORU, an impressive seven-minute song that provides a light reprieve from the overall gloom of Miss Anthropocene. But overall, Grimes has reworked her past style, welding it into something darker and more complex.

It’s a smart move — Grimes has proved her ability to exist within the realm of pop stardom while also exploring the limitless confines of experimental music.

This is especially clear on the closing track, “We Appreciate Power”. The track features aggressive instrumentals and vocals, and ends the album with a forceful punch to the gut.

Grimes’ is completely self-assured in this song and is almost dominating in her vocal performance. “What will it take to make you capitulate,” sings Grimes. She completely takes over in “We Appreciate Power” and makes it clear that her status and influence as a musician are completely undeniable.

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