The world of experimental synthpop has been dominated by acts like Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance. While these two bands have released some great records, it would be nice to see another artist join their ranks of popularity. This is where Canada native Claire Boucher a.k.a. Grimes comes in. Having gained popularity through posting her bedroom demos on Myspace, she released her debut record Geidi Primes through Arbutus Records last year. The release of this record got her signed to one of indie music’s most respected labels, 4AD records. To legitimize her signing we’ve got her second record and debut for 4AD, Visions.
Visions officially begins with “Genesis.” The track introduces you to the array of sounds that you’ll encounter throughout the record. A variety of synthesizer sounds accompany the Asian-influenced pianos. The constant percussion, Boucher’s ever-changing vocal range, and layers upon layers of vocals are all things you’ll find in this record.
The beauty of Visions comes from just how adventurous it is. Every track has its own unique identity without straying from the vision that Grimes attempts to create. Boucher ventures into ’80s territory with “Oblivion,” and filled with new wave influences it manages to stay fresh thanks to the method of production. The record gets more and more imaginative as it progresses. The spacey science fiction-like synths work perfectly with the chopped up vocals in “Circumambient.” Of the standout tracks, “Be A Body” is easily the one that shines the most. With its repeating synth lines and percussion it gives a minimalist and eerie feel. However Boucher’s constantly changing vocal range keeps the song from feeling like one long looped beat. The song is proof that the combination of Grimes and simple structure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Even the longer songs manage to stay fresh throughout their duration. Instead of making a couple of dragged out compositions like many musicians do, Grimes makes her lengthier tracks as fun as the ones before them. The second longest song, “Nightmusic,” is fun and bouncy but maintains a classy nightlife kind of feel. The longest track,”Skin,” clocks in at barely six minutes, yet it feels tremendously complete. We see Boucher, like in every track in the record, trying something new. There is a slightly melancholy feel as she vocalizes at her highest range in the album. It ends up working perfectly in contrast to her more upbeat tracks.
Upon first listen, Visions will come off as a fun quirky album. However as you give it more time and pay closer attention you get much more. The amount of thought and the variety of sounds, instrumentation and structures is uncanny. The more you visit it the more you discover. Visions truly is 2012’s first great album.