Thursday, June 26, 2014
Not even 10 minutes after Vancouver native Claire Boucher aka Grimes put up her latest song "Go" on Soundcloud, there were loading problems for the track. I can't imagine I was the only one nervously clicking, "praying" I'd get through in time to replay "Go" to my heart's content. Though I'd just heard it on Zane Lowe's BBC 1 Radio show at 1:30, I wanted to hear it again. If I spent the rest of day letting it boom out of my speakers and failed to get anything else done, including this review, it'd still be a successful day.
Now some of that is obvious hyperbole, but not much. "Go" is that kind of entrancing effort. The same week Pitchfork's Ryan Dombal told us about the joys of well-timed bass drops in a music culture desensitized to them, Grimes upped the ante further. Rustie's "Raptor" features an unquestionably terrific drop, one best compared to a waterfall of noise if you're intent on using any kind of "dropping" or "falling" verbiage. But "Raptor"'s drop is necessary when you consider it comes after a stretch of silence. You need noise to drown out the quietude in that case. The reason "Go"'s anvil-like drop is so fascinating is that it may not even be needed. Before its leaden appearance "Go" is a mid-tempo languisher with an eerie clock rhythm and elegiac piano ringing out. Grimes half-whispers about dreams and memories being indistinguishable and time cruelly stretching out past some far-off horizon. Bolstered by mechanical drum claps, its best described as "haunting."
However once the bass goes from a mid-volume rumble to a speaker busting boom, "Go" becomes something else entirely. "Bubblegum trap rave" may be a clunky way to describe it, but that's what immediately came to mind. If that is the descriptor though, it's not syrupy sweet bubblegum pop you'd hear on an AM station in the 60s. This is the sugar-free variety, where the bubble's been popped and disappointment hangs where a smile once resided. Under Blood Diamond's massively stuttering samples, you can hear Grimes' head hanging down when she sings of "stupid dreams." Her best work often captures peril in mundane situations (night-walks becoming panic-stricken runs on "Oblivion") and "Go" is no different. We all dream, it's just rarely as vivid or panoramic as this.
In an on-air interview with Zane Lowe today, Grimes intimated she'd be releasing a new album "sometime next year" so "Go" will have to tide you over until then.