Grimes – Visions

For all the chatter about witch house or whichever micro-genre you choose to namedrop, Visions brings to mind for me something more relatable. Imagine a 1983 Madonna, in full-on culture carnivore mode, being dropped into the present day underground club scene on the prowl for trends to which she can apply her wiles.

There are still no breakthrough additions to music’s set of fundamental building blocks; however, Visions offers further evidence there remain infinite ways to creatively recombine the ones we have. At darker moments like the opening to “Genesis,” Clare Boucher (aka Grimes) channels the motorik churn of early Kraftwerk. Given thirty-five years of technological advances Grimes needn’t work nearly as hard to wring out those ominous tones, but the iconic Germans also displayed a lot less dancefloor savvy. Grimes’ beats coexist seamlessly with the K-Pop (or is it J-Pop?) of “Be a Body” and “Infinite Love Without Fulfillment.” And I defy you to listen to “Vowels = Space and Time” without thinking of the Material Girl.

Fortunately, earlier Kate Bush references – superficially based on nothing more than Boucher’s helium falsetto chirps – have essentially vanished as song structure takes precedence over the ethereal washes of Grimes’ prior releases. Visions still exudes an icy distance, but Grimes weaves enough hooks into her one-woman looping act to reward return visits, and to subversively make most of these tracks seem vaguely accessible with repeat exposure.

Even as Grimes threatens to overheat as the latest blog sensation, Visions blends some appealing bubblegum and dance doom (and OK, maybe even some Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam) into an irresistible concoction.