Written by: Lichtmensch, Loveloth, and Ancient Hand
"But wait!" the haters said, sweating feverishly. "This is a metal review site! Get this pop crap out of here!" Needless to say, said haters are now....disposed of, and the Village is significantly quieter for it. Miss Anthropocene an album many of our writers enjoyed, and it is also hardly a stretch to justify Grimes' latest iteration as "heavy." On her long-awaited followup to 2015's revered Art Angels, Grimes pushes pop to a dark and ethereal place. Utilizing a healthy blend of sounds and genre aesthetics, Miss Anthropocene decries stagnation.
The Sleeping Village's cabal of scribes is a multifaceted lot, and when a Grimes review was proposed, three unique individuals--Lichstman, Loveloth, and Ancient Hand--were all excited to put in their two cents regarding Miss Anthropocene. In cases like these, where a frank and friendly discussion between friends seems more productive than a bunch of separate reviews, we break out a rare but ancient form of communication: the conversation. So, here it is: the long-belated followup edition of Twofold Treatise-- but, in this case, we're not dealing with two slumbering critics, but rather three. Hence: Threefold Treatise.
Lichtmensch: So, before we get into the discussion of the album itself, maybe we should start by talking a little bit about our “history” with Grimes. Have we listened to her earlier stuff, what’s our favourite album up until Miss Anthropocene, etc.
Ancient Hand: I like that! Just a short description of our experience with her along with the elements we specifically like, so it can give a bit of perspective on why we feel the way we do.
Lichtmensch: Exactly what I had in mind! I guess I'll just start. I personally listened to Grimes for the first time in late 2018. I had seen a lot of praise for her music in the Instagram music community and was curious enough to check it out. I just listened to her discography chronologically, not knowing what to expect at all. Her album Visions and especially the atmospheric track “Skin” was where I began to really dig her style. Then I checked out Art Angels and I was done for. It was unlike anything I had heard before and made me reconsider my ideas of what could be achieved within the confines of the pop genre. It is definitely the Grimes album I have listened to the most and, pretty much the only one that I regularly revisit. Definitely one of my favourite pop albums ever and probably one of my favourite albums, period.
Ancient Hand: I was very late to the game with Grimes’ music. I’ve known of her for years, but only checked out her music at the end of 2018/ beginning of 2019. I first listened to Visions, and while I found the sounds to be very pleasing, I found the songwriting and progression of many of the tracks to be lackluster, and my attention was not immediately held. Like most of her listeners, however, I found Art Angels to be an attention-grabbing pastel fever dream that I couldn’t tear myself away from. The melodies, the instrumentals, and the fantastic production made it one of my favorite finds of last year. Since my first listen, I have had the album on repeat since-- with her new singles thrown in for some variety.
Loveloth: I too was late to the game, Lichtmensch got me into her actually. Took me a while to adjust to her style but when it clicked, it clicked hard. Funnily enough, this “click” occurred on BMTH’s “Nihilist Blues” of all things, what a banger.. When it comes to Grimes, not a fan of her earlier stuff when looked as a whole but some really stand out tracks appear every now and then. My favorite is unsurprisingly Art Angels and I came to this realization at the end of last year when she announced Miss Anthropocene release date and I decided to delve deep and explore.
Lichtmensch: What a shame that Grimes herself apparently thinks Art Angels is, and I quote, “a piece of crap."
Ancient Hand: A sentiment I obviously disagree with.
Ancient Hand: But, with the release of her new album, Miss Anthropocene, we have a batch of new Grimes songs that I am eager to get into with you guys! Now, this record features a very new sound for Grimes. I would say it is far darker and more atmospheric than her previous albums. I thoroughly enjoy this new direction. What did you two think about it?
Lichtmensch: I actually wouldn’t even say it is a very new sound for her. While her music never was this dark, I think this new album’s focus on atmosphere and soundscapes is an element that was very important to her earlier albums, as well. The more radio-friendly pop sound of Art Angels seems more like the exception when you look at Grimes’ discography as a whole.
Loveloth: I agree with Lighty Boi, it seems like Miss Anthropocene revisits her older days but does so in a different way. What I find a tad ironic is how I usually lean more into atmospheric or synthy pop rather than the “sugary” ones yet Art Angels stands out as a clear exception. Maybe it comes down to the sheer volume of variety and Miss Anthropocene definitely follows that trend but it’s seemingly taken to another level. Most things work, some don’t but we’ll get to that.
Ancient Hand: That’s true; I guess I was thinking more in comparison to Art Angels than anything. I am, however, a huge fan of this more subdued and atmospheric side of Grimes. For example, the intro track to this record, “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth,” is easily one of my favorite tracks from her.
Loveloth: Same and I am a big fan of that track too, perfect opener, be it concept wise or sound wise.
Lichtmensch: I really like Grimes’ atmospheric side, too. It actually took me a while to really get into Art Angels. Visions had been my go-to Grimes album before Art Angels really clicked with me. So, the atmospheric sound of Miss Anthropocene was something I already appreciated about Grimes and was happy to see her return to. And I agree, “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth” is indeed a great opener to the album. Sets the mood very well.
Ancient Hand: I really enjoy the whole first leg of this album, honestly. “Darkseid” is a super engaging and bassy track that gets my attention right out the gate… and “Delete Forever”... oh my god “Delete Forever” may be my favorite track of the year thus far.
Loveloth: The only track I genuinely disliked was “Darkseid” haha. I find it the same as “SCREAM” which translates to annoying. It’s too “uwu” for my tastes but Grimes was always pretty open with her love for anime and Japanese culture so there’s that. Loved “Delete Forever,” especially when the banjo and fiddle hit. Also, it came to my attention that its music video is a clear reference to “Akira”.
Lichtmensch: I like “SCREAM” quite a bit but while I am digging the instrumentals of “Darkseid”, the heavy use of autotune on the vocals really throws me off. I don’t really get what she was trying to achieve there. The next few tracks are where it’s at, though. “Delete Forever” and “Violence” are absolute bangers in my humble opinion. I really like the variety of styles she is exploring here.
Ancient Hand: I read the autotune vocals as the underlying chaos in the darkness she is exploring, but I understand why that wouldn’t appeal to everybody. “Delete Forever” has an undeniable beauty in the vulnerability, and I think “Violence” was a genius single as it sort of bridges the gap between Art Angels and Miss Anthropocene with its more reverbed approach to catchy pop.
Loveloth: Huh, didn’t think of it that way but makes complete sense, honestly I was sure “We Appreciate Power” was the leading single. What are your thoughts on the second half of the record? I found it weaker and can we agree that she released too many singles for this thing. Kinda ruined my anticipation so to speak and I knew I couldn’t resist listening to them.
Ancient Hand: I do think this album would have benefited greatly from having “We Appreciate Power” in its latter half.
Lichtmensch: While I really like the song a lot, I think it doesn’t really fit in with most of the album, stylistically speaking. I think it was a good idea to include it as a bonus track.
Loveloth: Big agree, way too industrial and droney to fit the ethereal vibe the record was going so hard for. What impresses me the most is how she manages to keep that vibe despite touching so many genres, just look at “4ÆM” and how it toys with drum ‘n’ bass but remains otherworldly so to speak.
Ancient Hand: I suppose it could have overshadowed things by being present. I thought it could have been a great point of heightened energy on the record. Also, I do agree that far too many singles were released.
Lichtmensch: Going back to your question, Loveloth, I definitely agree on the second half being weaker than the first. I also think the album should have ended with “Before the fever”. “IDORU” feels like an unnecessary attachment to a well-rounded album and is, on a side note, quite a bit too long for how little is going on in it.
Loveloth: I was initially off-put with “IDORU” but it grew on me. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of Björk but you do have a point. Still, the song clearly has meaning for her as she uploaded two versions of it. I think it’s a love letter to her baby or something akin to it which explains its more upbeat lyrics and tone. Plus, it’s similarly minimalistic in instrumentation like the opener so we have that as well.
Ancient Hand: I totally agree with you, Lichtmensch. “IDORU” is really the only track on the album that left me disappointed. It sucks to have the final track leave a bad taste in my mouth, but I think some of the sounds she used on it were genuinely grating to my ears, and I found it difficult to get hooked into the melody. What were some of your favorite tracks that this album offered us?
Lichtmensch: Good question. It’s very difficult to pick favourites because I love a lot of the tracks on here. If I had to pick just three, “Delete Forever” would definitely be one of them. The country inspired style of the track was really unexpected and genuinely surprised me. The track is very well-written in my opinion, taking a simple acoustic guitar sample and building upon and expanding around it towards a beautiful climax. “Violence” is definitely another one of my favourites. When the single came out, I basically had it on repeat for a week or so. I love her breathy vocals on here and the disco/synth pop style of the track. It’s quite simplistic but it has a very catchy and calming vibe to it that I enjoy a lot. “4 ÆM” and “My Name Is Dark” are awesome but for my final pick, I’ll have to go with “New Gods”. Both musically and lyrically, it serves as a summary of the album’s concept and I think its placement as the centerpiece of the tracklist is perfect. The song itself is atmospheric and groovy, the vocals are beautiful, so, yeah, it’s a killer track if I do say so myself.
Loveloth: Extremely tough question. Honestly, it’s a big tossup between like four tracks but “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth” and “Delete Forever” stand out by a really small margin. Both achieve serenity in way different manners and I can’t decide which I like more. Liked literally every single which is another great sign of quality, it’s just a shame the rest of the record isn’t as memorable, excluding “New Gods” and “Before The Fever” of course.
Ancient Hand: I like things in threes, so I’ll pick my three favorites. I already mentioned “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth,” which Grimes describes as an Enya-like song, but as though you’re fighting a balrog, which… is the easiest way to get me to love a song. Next has to be “Delete Forever” for its sheer beauty. Also, going back to the ‘too many singles’ discussion, I just straight up didn’t listen to this song when she released it. I was tired of all the singles and didn’t hear it until the album was out. And lastly, I’ll have to go with “You’ll miss me when I’m not around.” I think that song is so moody and beautiful, and I believe it is a perfect showcasing of the perfect amount of effects to place on vocals while also having some sections show off her genuinely amazing vocal talents. I love how groovy yet haunting it manages to be. Also shoutout to “Before the Fever” for being so damn spooky and ambient!
Loveloth: I absolutely should’ve done the same with “Delete Forever” but the urge was too strong!
Lichtmensch: I feel you! I could not resist listening to every one of the singles as soon as they were released. So, I’d say it has become pretty clear that most of us like a lot of the songs on the album. What is your opinion on the album as a unified whole? I personally feel like it lacked coherence in a way. What are your thoughts on this?
Ancient Hand: I think Art Angels certainly has a better flow to it. I think this album could have rearranged some of the tracks for a clearer journey through the songs, and I think a clearer story to go with the amazing concept would’ve helped that. However, I still find it to be massively enjoyable. The songs themselves are very solid, and I think some minor tweaks would’ve elevated Miss Anthropocene to Art Angels heights, but at the end of the day, I certainly don’t see this as a step back in Grimes’ discography.
Lichtmensch: Coherence was the wrong word. What you mentioned about the flow of the album is really what I was trying to say. I think the concept is very interesting and had a lot of potential that a clearer story could have brought out better. This felt more like a collage of loosely connected ideas than a fleshed-out concept album. Do I see this album as a step back in Grimes’ discography? Probably not. Do I think Art Angels is the better album? Absolutely.
Loveloth: Right there with you two. Was this her first foray into concept records? Because that would explain the lack of capitalizing on it. It is a shame but not as big as one would think. I wouldn’t call Miss Anthropocene underwhelming or anything alike but I did feel that way the first time I listened to it. Growers are nothing new in Grimes’ discography but I do think Art Angels is still her magnum opus. It’s more consistent despite providing an equal amount of experimentation. Still, the highs of Miss Anthropocene are extremely memorable and they only make me more excited for her future but as it stands, the record is “just” good and that’s more than enough for me.
Ancient Hand: Interesting to see that we may disagree minorly on a couple of songs, but the overall sentiment remains. I would feel comfortable saying that means that no matter which side of Grimes you’re a fan of, there is plenty for you to enjoy here! was released Feb. 2020 from 4AD
Grimes - Miss Anthropocene was released Feb. 2020 from 4AD
> I think this is a good ending. Agree? Good
> Unless you have anything you wanna add, i think it’s good!
> I concur.
> Beautiful! Thank you both !
> Sorry it took me so long, this made my dying fever much more enjoyable, <3 to you both!
> We love you Loveloth, don’t be sorry. I hope you feel better soon!
> I give this two days and then “freedom”! Btw, I am gonna release something special on April 1st and I think you two are gonna love it!
> We did it guys
> Ian, leave this part in please.
> Haha yes because AUTHENTICITY
> Yeah Ian! These waggish scribes deserve as much.
> I will share this with Ian now if you are okay with that
> Hell yeah
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!