Single Review – Grimes – SCREAM ft. Aristophanes

With Vancouver Pop experimentalist Grimes about to release her fourth studio album Art Angles with only a couples of weeks notice in which time she has been busy releasing some tracks from the album of which her new single ‘SCREAM’ is one. The track features Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes and Taiwanese lyrics delivered with speed. Around this are repeating guitar samples and a range of tumbling percussion mixed with drum samples. The song is tinged with heavier and rough edged guitars, heavier beats and echoed screeches which cleverly follow a muting of the music for maximum effect. A song that is as dynamic and as varied as Grimes herself.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Grimes – Flesh Without Blood

Canadian Experimental Pop artist Claire Elise Boucher a.k.a Grimes is to release her fourth studio album Art Angles next week Friday on November 6th and has released the opening single ‘Flesh Without Blood’ a few days ago. This track has a genuine Rock Pop slant entwined with those prominent elements of intricate industrial electronica and this is lightly glossed over an echoed production which is only enhanced with her lightly distorted vocals that glaze over the instrumentation. The track is cleverly produced and shifts and alters it’s focus almost constantly throughout the track whilst being catchy and melodic, but also remaining to have something more to it. Whether her first album since 2012 will see this continued we can find out in just over a week.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Destroyer – Poison Season Review

Dan Bejar Is the kind of artist who creates something different every time he enters the studio. Often messy instrumentally but always lyrically clever, Bejar has established himself as one of the (if not the) best indie rock poet since the 1990s.

Destroyer is the solo project of Vancouverite Dan Bejar who you may have heard from his numerous other projects like Swan Lake and The New Pornographers. Bejar’s previous LP “Kaputt” went in a different direction to any of his other LPs; it sports a much more cleaned up style of production with prominent jazz elements which combine in his own style dreamy pop music. Bejar also brought what we have always expected; great poetry (particularly on songs like “Downtown” and “Blue Eyes”). The album may have sounded a little bit too ‘80s for some. Whilst the LP wasn’t exactly drenched in reverb and jangly guitars it can be off putting for those looking for a more slick modern sound. Which is just was Bejar delivers as he gets back into his poetic roots. That’s not to say he has neglected the instrumental side of his music; in fact, he has created some incredibly delicate music on his latest record.

Yet again Bejar changes his sound for his latest LP. On “Poison Season” he punts for a more cinematic and grand orchestral sound to go with his gentle poetry; a combination which on paper sounds great. The album opener “Times Square” (the first of three different versions) is a great sampler for what’s to come. Its slow sweeping strings are fantastic and even more so when it reaches a small crescendo for its ending. We then get a shot in the arm in the form of “Dream Lover” which although another good song exposes his weakness as a vocalist; he just seems to fade into the background a little amidst all the stomping drums and the all-round messy rockabilly style of the song is infectious. Not to mention that saxophone solo. Got to love the sax.

“Hell” is a great track, probably the best on the album. His typical delicate poetic lyrics are matched with equally delicate strings until it ends with Bejar bluntly repeating “it’s hell down here, it’s hell” as he reminds us of Kaputt’s more jazzy elements. “The River” is a little more straightforward; focusing almost exclusively on the jazz but it is no less impressive and surprisingly fulfilling in the sense that the string elements aren’t missed. “Girl in a sling” then demonstrates his orchestral proficiency. Yet again it doesn’t leave you bemoaning the lack of other elements but engaged in a relatively simple story of Bejar comforting the eponymous character.

“Archer on the beach” keeps the slow and smooth grove going. This track sounds like it’s a part of an extravagant musical, the distant and increasingly distorted guitar clashes with the smooth jazz elements in a great ending. Some of the lyrics here too paint beautiful pictures albeit strange ones (“Careful now, watch your step, in you go/ The Ass King’s made of asses, the Ice Queen’s native snow/And Archer’s where you left him, with his arrows slightly out of reach/ Impossible raver on your death bed, Archer on the beach”).

Poison Season again picks up with “Midnight Meets the Rain” which treads the line that Bejar so often does between chaotic and controlled. Bejar again shows us how he can seemingly lose control when an almost ridiculous guitar solo is put up against the screaming of a saxophone. On “Bangkok” Destoryer delivers yet another beautiful delicate song in which he stretches his words as though to emphasise the obvious beauty of the track. On a side note, I love the piano on this track; just how it mirrors him in the chorus but especially for the interlude between the chorus and verse. It’s not exactly reinventing the wheel but that doesn’t mean it’s not easy on the ears. Rather disappointingly the next track, “Solace’s Bride” just feels a little flat and conventional when put against the rest of the album.

Poison Season feels a bit like Bejar is trying to create a kind of grand musical. There doesn’t seem to be one theme on this album but rather short (and sometimes bizarre) imaginative stories. The few negatives with the album are more to do with my issue with Bejar’s voice then the instrumentals or lyrics. It just doesn’t work in some of the more upbeat tracks, he struggles to be heard on “Dream Lover” and his tone can be overly smooth for new listeners. That said, Poison Season is vividly beautiful as Bejar delivers something quite different to 2011’s Kaputt but by no means any less impressive.

Destroyer – Poison Season = 8.5/10

Callum Christie   @christiecallum

Single Review + FREE DOWNLOAD – Grimes – Go

Grimes returns with her first new material since 2012’s Visions and her new track ‘Go’ is the first material to be released off her upcoming fourth album set for release later this year. She said that ‘Go’ who she worked with producer Blood Diamonds on, is “our summer jam” and that she wanted to release the single now as “I am very bored of waiting to finish my new album before releasing new music.” The Canadian’s new track opens with cascading and chiming synths before having a piano layered upon it with a drum sample beat following on from it. Her soft and optimistic sounding vocal flows along with the spaced out background sounds but the songs feel takes a turn when the grinding, heavy beats and dub-like samples solely make up the chorus. This feeds back into the more silky smooth verses that end with the intention of charging up the song for the chorus with the more rapid drum beats. The chorus again slides away back into the soft, cascades of the verse instrumentals as her soft echoes close the song. The transitions work brilliantly and though the chorus doesn’t have much to, it does have the urgency and basic raw hook for a modern ‘summer jam’. This song does get better when you understand it and though you may cry foul and shout chart music, you have to consider how much well thought out and varied this track is compared to those you find in the charts and at least she’s putting herself out there and trying to be dynamic. It’s certainly got people talking about her new album though so I guess it’s done it’s job.