Looking back, now, it doesn’t feel like Grimes’ ‘Visions’ was just released in 2012 – it feels like it crash-landed on this planet instead, arriving like a capsule from some strange and distant world, bringing with it strange sounds and sci-fi bangers that were like nothing we’d heard before. It hoovered up plaudits, gained rave reviews, and everyone waited with baited breath for what this alien-pop genius would do next.
And waited… and waited… and waited. Because, in the past three years, Grimes’ ‘Visions’ follow-up seems to have been plagued by problems: postponed release dates, scrapped material, discontent with large batches of her new songs. In those three years, a handful of songs have been released, from the singles ‘Go’ and ‘REALiTi’ to tracks such as ‘Entropy’ (which was written for HBO’s show Girls), but nearly all came with the same disclaimer: this won’t be on the new LP.
But, now, the wait is nearly over. So, with album number four only a few months away, slated to finally drop in October, here’s what to expect…
It’s full of ‘diss tracks’
If there was one big take-away from Grimes’ lengthy and fascinating Fader interview – and one snippet of information to truly whet the appetite for the next album – it was this: the album will, in part, see her settling old scores and smiting foolish detractors. “They’re not all diss tracks, but there’s a lot of diss tracks,” she revealed. “I think all my other albums were, like, sad. And this time it’s more happy and angry. I live in my own house that I pay for. I bought all this equipment myself. I control my own life now. No one has any say over what I do or where I go or when I do it.” And one of those diss tracks, in particular, sounds like a belter: inspired by “male producers”, it’s “about a guy who acts like he knows everything and then comes back crawling on his knees, which has happened to me so many times.”
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There’ll be some new alter-egos to meet
An equally fascinating prospect for the new LP will be the introduction of what Boucher describes as ‘alter egos’, as she looks to expand upon her Grimes persona and incorporate new styles and sounds. “Okay, there’s Grimes, but there’s other ones too now—and they’re like a girl group,” she told Fader. “There’s Screechy Bat, who’s the metal one. There’s one that’s super vampish and sexy now—I don’t know her name yet, but she’s like the Ginger Spice.”
She’s been immersing herself in True Detective and Star Wars
This is more of a wish – but, seeing as Grimes is playing with personas and personalities on her ‘Visions’ follow-up, maybe there’s some scope for some influence from film and TV. Especially when you consider how wide-ranging her favourites tend to be, too. “I start becoming whatever TV I watch and now I’m full ‘True Detective’ for the final scenes of this album making, which is good and scary,” she wrote on Twitter yesterday. There’s also the essay she recently penned on Star Wars, sci-fi and feminism, too – is there a chance that could bleed into her music?
She’s learnt the ukelele (and guitar, drums, violin and keyboard, too)
Last year, Grimes said that her fourth album would move away from the computer-made sounds of ‘Visions’ for something more organic – a sound which she described as “a whole new sonic world, melodically, rhythmically. Playing ‘irl’ music is my biggest inspiration lately” She even revealed that one of the songs she’d written with the new method was her “first attempt at a glam rock style song, feeling Queen and Bowie”. Since then, she’s added even more instrumentation to the LP: she learnt to play, and record herself, playing the ukelele, guitar, drums, violin and keyboards.
The lack of love for ‘Go’ didn’t make her start from scratch…
Last year, Grimes released the single ‘Go’. A track that had originally been written for Rihanna’s eighth album, it was rejected by the singer so Boucher decided to put it out herself. “It’s our summer jam,” she explained in June 2014. “We figured we should put it out cuz I am very bored of waiting to finish my album b4 releasing new music haha.” A few months later, and she admitted that its mainstream sounds had alienated her hardcore supporters. “It upsets a lot of my fans, and I get why it upsets them,” she said. “Everybody was like, ‘Oh, Grimes is pandering to the radio’.” Since then, it’s been suggested time and time again that the negative reaction to the track inspired her to start on her album all over again, but she’s insisted that’s not true. “The album was scrapped cuz it was depressing and I didn’t want to tour it,” she said in a Tumblr post back in March. “‘Go’ was never on the album anyway.” And it’s something she repeated to Fader, too, stating: “There were just hundreds of songs. On this album that I’m making now, there’s at least a hundred songs that won’t make it onto this. I think all musicians have songs that don’t make it onto records.”
… but her ‘depressing’ songs did
Instead, says Boucher, the main incentive for ripping up and starting again was a desire to write and record more positive material. She says that new sound is linked to a lifestyle change, too, telling Fader: “Becoming a healthy person—that’s a really hard thing to do. Getting away from all that stuff and for the first time having to confront things and just being like, ‘Man, you have nothing to escape into right now: you cannot escape into drugs, you cannot escape into alcohol, and you can’t really escape into music because music is now your job.’ I kind of went through this period where I had no way of dealing with anything, so I was writing these really depressing songs, and nothing was fun at all.”
It’s out this October
Originally, Grimes’ ‘Visions’ follow-up was supposed to be out in September last year, but it didn’t materialise in time because the material she’d written “sucked” (her word, not ours). Instead, then, it’s going to be released this October. “Album will be surprise released all at once prob w 2 singles at the same time cuz every track is super different,” she wrote on Twitter in May of this year. She went on to add that it’ll be out in “oct” and that it will also be a “surprise release cuz I want fans to get it b4 press and the tracks should be heard together”.
Other tracks include ‘Flesh Without Blood’ and a song about being “too scary to be objectified”
As Grimes has previously said in her tweets, she doesn’t want to spoil the surprises of her new album ahead of its release; these are songs she wants to be heard without any prior expectations. But she did tell Fader that one song set to be on the LP is ‘Flesh Without Blood’, which the publication described as a guitar-led “power-punk anthem”, and another track which will be about being “too scary to be objectified” and will feature three female MCs. Neither ‘Go’ or ‘REALiTI’, another standalone track recorded in 2013 and released earlier this year, will be on the LP.
The success of ‘Visions’ nearly destroyed Grimes
In October last year, Grimes wrote an essay for Rookie in which she hinted that the popularity of ‘Visions’ had come with its downsides, too. “You will never hear more people tell you that you’re wrong than when you’re succeeding,” she wrote. “After my album ‘Visions came out, I spent a really long time freaking out because people were telling me that in order to take “the next step” in my career, I would have to become a much better “musician,” that I’d need a backing band, etc. I now realize that (a) none of those people have music careers, and (b) I wasted a lot of time trying to do things I was told were “important for every professional musician” to do, without realizing that as a fan, I am far more interested in things that I’ve never seen before.” She’s expanded on that period in the Fader interview, where she spoke of the toll that touring and record promotion had on her in 2013. “There was a point where I remember putting a hand up and grabbing a piece of my hair, and I could just pull my hair out,” she said. “I was, like, beyond exhausted, and I was just really unstable, and it was just super uncool. It was at the point where it was going to destroy Grimes.” But they say that what doesn’t kill you make you stronger – here’s hoping that, come October, Boucher’s taken all those experiences and returns with her finest album yet.