Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #80 - Grimes, "Visions"

This album that I've been catching glimpses of throughout 2012 so far. I have now tracked it down on Grooveshark. I like it. Already some freshness, some unpredictability, some angles.

In "Genesis", for example, it sounds like she is singing about "Elephant nose" and within what is going on around her, that's quite plausible. Her voice is high-pitched and fluttery and avian and nasal, which isn't going to endear her to me. But it works with the bubbly nature of the tunes that she's singing over. She is squeakier yet at the beginning of "Eight" (the title might be a reference to the symbol for infinity) while a large metal German repeats something I cannot understand. Maybe "tyres"? "Circumambient" (walking around?) crashes about in a forest of beats and canyoning synth stabs, a thuggish wood nymph skidding on a raspberry ripple shudder of a squirty riff.

By the time I've got to "Vowels = space + time" I've realised that the high-pitched vocals are triggering memories of hardcore mixtapes - but minus the thundering breaks. It gives it a curious sense of scale, or proximity and distance. I like it.

There was an interesting question posed on The Quietus about this album and pop, saying that this was pop and simultaneously that pop should be treated as a dirty word and not a concept to be shoe-horned into darker, more complex musical places into which it should not go. My little contribution would be to ask whether what makes music pop is a question of impulsiveness, ie the more instinctive the music, the poppier it is. That it's far less about ticking various musicological boxes, but more about following some plan sketched out by the brain. Like Elvis did and Gruff Rhys does - and the more thoughtful, more "structured"  rock acts do not. Human-shaped music. Music that spilled originally out of excitement about sex or drugs or rock'n'roll itself - before everything cooled and hardened into generic poses. Or maybe I've misread pop music, my own impulses and the original article.

If my impulse idea holds any water at all, then "Be A Body" could be the perfect title, stressing humanity from a left-field position, rewiring intuitions in new, transmittable images. There's a breathy quality to it, like the more brooding Pet Shop Boys tunes. "Nightmusic" takes a nice slice of Renaissance music and bookends the song with it, twisted and turned on itself. It then goes off in a murky dance-pop direction. "Skin" is a lot more intimate, even the vocals are lower and I can hear what she's singing over the light-touch keys and skinny drums. "You act like nothing ever happened/But it meant the world to me."

So my dry spell is gone. Well worth the wait.

Rating: Taking The Pop out of Proportion

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