Album Review: Grimes – Miss Anthropocene

By Andrew Breazeale, Staff Writer
[4AD; 2020]
Rating: 7.5/10

Key tracks: “4ÆM”, “Delete Forever”, “My Name is Dark – Art Mix”

It’s hard to describe modern music without mentioning Grimes. The Canadian singer-songwriter, Claire Boucher, has been pushing the boundaries of pop, electronic and hip-hop music since her debut in 2010. She is a pioneer in her realm of music production, and with masterful works like Art Angels and Visions already under her belt, it’s no surprise she has returned with an even more fully-formed and polished album: Miss Anthropocene.

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Citing her new work as an anthropomorphized version of the proposed human-induced climate crisis epoch named Anthropocene—hence the titleGrimes dives deeply into a dystopian world that is not so different from our own. She takes us through a story about the new gods of the modern-day, all of whom represent a major issue in society.

She comments on sexual assault with the visceral and intense “Darkseid”, tackles the addiction crisis in the folk-like “Delete Forever” and likens the world to a simulation in the ethereal and futuristic “4ÆM”.

But in some ways, this album is her tamest and least experimental to date. Instead of rallying people around these social issues, she laments the inevitability of these problems and their institutionalization in society. She seems sorrowful that these new gods are so hateful and destructive, running rampant in society with no end in sight.

That being said, even with the album’s weak points in mind, Miss Anthropocene is Grimes’ most cohesive and expressive work yet. She doesn’t hold back on her beats at all, creating powerful synths and drums to contrast her intangible voice. Her usage of themes and symbolism is unrivaled, as she paints images of her concerns in captivating and unique ways that fully express her reality and the hopelessness she feels toward the world. 

The album as a whole is perfectly in sync, with unifying themes, beats and synths giving the record its identity and personality. It’s easy to feel the catharsis that comes through on Miss Anthropocene, as if Grimes is dumping the pressure and weight she carries into a vessel that represents not only her own doubts and fears about our world but also the real and existential problems that all humans face today. She breathes life into these critical issues, of which she says climate change is the most “urgent.” 

Further pushing the boundaries of experimental and electronic music, Grimes’ latest work is not only a journey through a terrifying future but also a study of the modern-day era and the flaws of the human race. If this album is any indication of the terror that climate change will (and is already) inflicting on the world, then it is our obligation as humans to step up and do something about it. Or, in the words of Grimes, “Be who you are, embrace your demise, for you are the architect of it.”

Listen here:

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