Before You Die: Halfaxa

By: Emma Rickett, Contributor

Halfaxa, home to one of the greatest Grimes songs ever written, is the second studio album written by Canadian artist, Claire Boucher. Even though she dated Elon Musk, was malnourished from only eating spaghetti for two years and got into Twitter beef with Azealia Banks (who claimed Grimes “smelled like a roll of nickels”), nothing Grimes has done could make me hate her. She is an enigma and a modern powerhouse of intellectual creation, of which she has created her own genre of music.

Halfaxa has been coined as witch house and goth-pop, it’s dark and feels holy in a way that only goth and goth-adjacent music can be. Grimes opens the record with “Outer”, a short-lived introduction full of wails and a beat that you can feel in your skull. The rest of the record is cloaked in a mystical slime and it follows you around even after you are finished listening. Grimes sings within her instrumentals, becoming an instrument herself, rather than singing on top of the instrumentals. She blends in with the electro-synth beats and becomes a mass that travels with you through the album, never seeking to be heard, only listened to. The inability to understand Grimes’ vocals is part of what makes her so distinctive. Few artists can use the necessity of reading lyrics to understand what on earth they’re saying to their advantage.

Listening to this album almost clears your head and allows Grimes to stand in the center and occupy as much of your mental terrain as she can. Her voice echoes and bounces around where your brain used to sit. You use all your power to try and understand what she’s saying and decipher her alien-like sounds, but you just can’t. The closing track, “Favriel”, and track 11, “≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈Ω≈” best encompass the energy from the record. The religious, techno-glitch harmonies and expansive background climbs and wiggles around with one another.

This review would not be complete without an honorable mention of one of my favorite Grimes songs, “My Sister Says the Saddest Things.” I am a sucker for sad songs and if you’ve read the rest of my writings for this column, this is common knowledge. For the record, I tried to liven it up with this review. Anyways, Grimes has this dichotomy with her voice where she alternates between an incredibly high pitch and this low, sing-song and you’re placed in between the narrative of the song; as if two sisters are whispering in your ears, repeating, “My only friend, this is the end.” 

Grimes’ specialty is making music that you can only listen to and never replicate- whether it’s with words or music, making it hard to convey the ambiance she creates. All of her albums are stellar in their own ways, but Halfaxa is by far Grimes’ most daring and unique album. Her visions of cathedral singing and the idea of heaven and hell are practically visible when tuning into tracks like “Hallways” and “Weregild.”

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