A few months ago my Twitter feed went crazy. Everyone was talking about Grimes. Now at the time I had no idea who or what that was, I just knew that I had to check it out. The first I saw and heard of Grimes aka Claire Boucher was a video to ‘Vanessa’, taken from Darkbloom; a collaborative album with fellow Canadian musician d’Eon. A fairly ethereal track strung over black and white moving images of women playing with make-up and dancing backwards, filmed by Grimes herself. The first thought that popped into my head, and remained, throughout the 5:48 minute clip was ‘how pretentious’.
As someone who prides herself on an eclectic music taste and open mind, I gave Grimes the benefit of the doubt. It’s not her fault, I thought, average artists blow up all the time and it’s difficult to live up to the hype. When this hype continued, I figured I had best give her another shot.
This time I listened intently to ‘Oblivion’, a track from her latest album release Visions, now inescapable to avid listeners of BBC 6 Music and the like. It had potential. It was ‘boppy’, a fun beat that the hipster kids could bounce around to without messing up their hair. But I still didn’t understand. Even when word spread at The Great Escape Festival of her jam-packed set at Brighton’s Digital and the appearance of two male backing dancers, I didn’t understand. She’s not the first musician to infuse live music and dance routines, even if you did think it was ‘totes amazing’.
By all means there’s a lot worse out there and there are many artists I also lump in this same category (The XX). It all seems like a lot of effort with little reward. A bit too much style over substance, which in some circumstances can be pulled off well but I find Miss Boucher lacking. She appears to me as a slightly disturbed Cyndi Lauper for the digital age, just a lot less ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ and a lot more ‘Girls Just Want To Look Like Me’.
Maybe one day it’ll click, maybe it won’t. Perhaps one evening you’ll find me front row and centre at a local Grimes gig, perhaps (and more likely) you won’t. I haven’t written her off completely, but as it stands, right here, right now, I don’t get Grimes. And I don’t feel I am missing out because of this.