Grimes | Visions

Arbutus (2012)
By REYAN ALI  |  January 31, 2012
2.0 2.0 Stars

Grimes - Visions

Claire Boucher uses Visions to set ground rules: she is esoteric, quixotic, whimsical — maybe even just regular ol' weird — and you must acknowledge and appreciate this, damnit. The debut record from Grimes, an alias of the Montreal-based Boucher, kicks off the peculiarity parade by presenting song titles steeped in cutesy affectation. One name includes a heart symbol, another Japanese characters, a third an equal sign, etc. All this purposeful quirkiness is far more off-putting than it is alluring, and things don't fare too much better from there. At a base level, Grimes's musical MO is to squeeze elastic pop music and chilly electronica into the same space, but her reasons for concocting this mash-up are frustratingly unclear. The combination leads to the kind of strangeness that never quite takes flight: the snappy, diaphanous synths have little grit or drive, the dancey tracks never get upbeat enough, little chunks of sounds drift in and out inconsequentially, and then there are the (mostly indecipherable) vocals. Boucher has a sorta Madonna-gone-tween thing going on, which is pretty intriguing at its best and excessively high-pitched and incredibly cloying at its worst (see "Eight" for the latter). Still, this isn't to say the entire thing is a wash — certain songs show glimpses of things going right: the subtle dirge "Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)," the airiness of "Oblivion," and the gorgeously spare "Know the Way (Outro)." Visions's cover art also looks like it was peeled off an '80s skate deck (always a great thing), and the ever-fascinating Boucher clearly has unusual ideas sloshing around her skull. It's a bummer that Visions ended up as a fever dream of a record: unnecessarily oblique, listlessly long (48 minutes!), and painfully shapeless.

GRIMES + BORN GOLD | Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, Allston | March 26 @ 9 pm | $12 | 18+ | 617.566.9014 or

Related: Review: Joyful Noise, Alex Chilton | Free Again: The ''1970'' Sessions, Cardinal | Hymns, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, rating, weird,  More more >
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