The Internet seem to be becoming its own genre these days, and indeed it’s difficult to conceive of stylistic melting pots like Flying Lotus, or Hype Williams existing without the endless expansion of musical horizons that high speed internet allows for those so inclined. Grimes, nee Claire Boucher, has inserted herself into this high-tech naval gazing continuum by describing Visions, her third album, as “post internet”, in what may have been a minor marketing master stroke, and a guaranteed way of getting chin stroking music types of our sort frothing at the mouth.
But is it an effective descriptor, and does it actually mean anything? The term post internet itself has its own hazy aesthetic logic, a tendency towards the sample heavy and the lo-fi, though the Dust Brothers were treading this terrain decades ago, and equally towards over saturated maximalism, as Simon Reynolds tactfully described it. An extend traverse into the darker depths of tumblr will confirm that this is what this stuff generally sounds like, and will also conclusively prove that the vast majority of this “post internet “ music is underachieving and ineffectual dross. This just goes to show that it’s the human element that ultimately determines whether music is worth a damn, and not the technological and cultural context that it’s produced in, though of course that context usually offers all the flavour.
In that light Visions success is in the large part due to Grimes stunning musical talent, the progress between the accomplished Visions and her 2011 debut Geidi Prime is mind boggling. Imagining what she’ll be doing in another years’ time is mouth-watering. This talent presents itself through her idiosyncratic stylistic traits like her sure to be divisive lisp inflected vocals, which she masterfully multi-tracks to densely infectious effect. Her talent is equally present in her ability to synthesize her disparate influences into a coherent whole of synth pop styles past and present. In that sense Visions offers a timeless retro futurism, it could easily have come from either 20 years in the past or 20 years in the future with only a slight stretch of the imagination. But ultimately it’s a product entirely of the present.
On that note it resembles Daft Punk’s Discovery which managed to pull off the same trick. They also share a density of sonic texture which they both use to reach euphoric and soaring pop highs. Visions is propulsive and inherently danceable, and Grimes unique vocal styling’s prove hypnotic in their childish sing-song way. Its bedroom produced stadium filling pop music (a trait confirmed by her odd yet well produced and choreographed music videos). It almost seems perverse to over-analyse it when instead it should simply be viscerally enjoyed.
Despite this it isn’t a perfect album as it does have some inconsistent patches, with a running time that slightly wears out its gaudy pop thrills by the end. It also consistently remains a pop album, and it’s slightly disappointing that the freewheeling experimental tendencies of her earlier releases haven’t been incorporated. With her talent there’s a tantalizing potential of combining esoteric sonic exploration with hedonistic pop vicariousness. Perhaps she’ll manage that feat on her next album. These flaws are minor and are beside the point as Visions offers an infectious dose of compelling pop that doesn’t really sound like much else while paradoxically still sounding like a million other things.
So maybe Grimes is post internet, and maybe that doesn’t really matter, but what is certain is that she’s a genuinely original and iconoclastic purveyor of pop music. This is of far more note then Claire Boucher’s eclectic music collection. In an age of so much stagnantly dull pop, it’s a genuine revelation to have a producer of unabashed yet forward thinking pop music that can genuinely surprise and captivate.
Words: James Ubaghs