For someone who was so prolific in the early part of her career, Grimes’s work rate is bordering on frustrating these days. As her star has risen, so has her perfectionism, it seems.
Beyond the odd collaboration (and by odd, we mean it both in the sense of being sparing and being unusual – her last was with musical cyborg and YouTube sensation Poppy; before that, she and Janelle Monae tried to make vagina pants a thing), it’s been a long old wait since ‘Art Angels’, NME’s Album Of The Year of 2015.
But boy, the wait was worth it. Her new track, ‘We Appreciate Power’, which dropped today, is a Darth Vader boot-stomp of industrial-goth pop-rock with chucka-chucka guitars and searing riffs bumping up against cutesy dreamy bits. A heavy-pop track with lyrics from the perspective of an AI, it’s like if Siri autonomously started singing a song about how much it would enjoy smothering you in your sleep. It sees Grimes going further into Nine Inch Nails territory than ever before, and it’s bloody brilliant.
According to the press release, the track – a collaboration with friend, touring partner and like-minded soul Hana – is inspired by the North Korean band Moranbong, a kind of real world version of The Party Posse from The Simpsons, whose ‘Drop The Bomb (Yvan Eht Nioj)’ will now be stuck in your head all day long. A propaganda pop band, Moranbong’s members were chosen by none other than Kim Jong-un, which explains the Simon Cowell haircut.
‘We Appreciate Power’, says the press release, “is written from the perspective of a pro-AI girl group propaganda machine who use song, dance, sex and fashion to spread goodwill towards Artificial Intelligence (it’s coming whether you want it or not).”
Blame Charlie Brooker maybe, but the future, the singularity and the rise of the machines is increasingly seeping into the consciousness of today’s great music makers. Where once Muse were out on a limb, we’re now seeing tech tension as a recurring theme in pop songs, from the collected works of the aforementioned Poppy to The 1975, whose new album ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ (out tomorrow), features an allegorical poem about internet addiction among musings on the way modern tech is rewiring our brains.
Grimes is right, AI is coming whether you want it or not. And since she’s been knocking about with Elon Musk, she probably knows more about the future of tech than the rest of us – goodness only knows what he keeps in his batcave.
But if the bots write songs as great as this, then I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords. Album, please.