Artificial intelligence is on the verge of replacing human singers. And global warming is destroying the planet a little bit more every day… In such a joyless context, is there actually any point in composing anymore? This is the big question asked by Grimes on her new – and last? – album. Miss Anthropecene saw the light of day on February 21st, after months of endless wild teasers. Anticipated like the messiah, this new opus has the intention of triggering a new musical era. A conclusive record loved by the press – before they even heard it – it also marks the end of the contract between Claire Boucher – her real name – and the record label 4AD. So, what do we take from this “hybrid” work, mixing ancestral mythology and a reflection on the world of tomorrow?
1. Serial teasers and an excessive wait
Miss Anthropocene combines misanthropy and anthropecene. It’s therefore necessary to mark the oral connection. Grimes mixes an aversion for humankind with a notion that’s controversial among scientists: anthropecene denotes the era during which humans left an indelible mark on the planet earth, notably with the appearance of plastic and the development of chemistry in the 19th century. In Grimes’ imagination, Miss Anthropocene would be the goddess of salvation responding to a world in the throes of climate change. The Canadian is also “really obsessed with ancient polytheism”, as she told Lana Del Rey in December 2019: “I love how the ancient Greeks or the ancient Egyptians lived in this weird anime world where there were just tons of gods that could be anything”. Anything: and there’s the rub. The idea of modelling an entire album on the apocalyptic adventures of a plastic goddess is far from stupid. But she’s still got to assume her ambitions.
"My album’s about a modern demonology or a modern pantheon where every song is about a different way to suffer or a different way to die."
Between pop star dreams and futuristic experiments, could Grimes be lost for good? After having forged such a specific universe around her new album, it’s difficult, ultimately, to know what to expect. This isn’t Claire Boucher’s first stylistic foray. After emerging on the Montreal scene in 2010 as the new do-it-yourself icon with Halfaxa, she quickly became one of the most interesting figures of her generation, alongside Björk and FKA twigs. But then in 2015, Art Angels, a record that was more pop and more accessible, disappointed her fans. Even the singer herself felt this album, which had become “a stain on her life”, was “shit”. Which is certainly one way to put up a smokescreen for the future.