Hall of Fame Looking back on Grimes‘Visions’

Bridging the gap between her past as a witchy, evasive producer and future as a creator of sugary pop songs, ‘Visions’ was Grimes’ turning point, a portrait of an artist in flux and finding her feet.

The Grimes we know today is almost unrecognisable from the Claire Boucher we first met on 2010’s ‘Geidi Primes’. Her most recent LP - 2015’s ‘Art Angels’ - saw her dream of being a popstar burst into reality with a wonderful flourish, making sugary anthems destined for festivals, miles away from the witchy bedroom producer of yesteryear. 2012’s ‘Visions’, though, the producer’s debut on 4AD, was where these two worlds collided perfectly - it was was, and remains, her sweet spot.

Recorded in a three-week period in Grimes’ Montreal bedroom on GarageBand, ‘Visions’ maintains the minimal characteristics of her previous work on the face of things, but there’s a world-conquering sense of ambition bubbling underneath, one which would fully bare its teeth on ‘Art Angels’. Pop songs punctuate the album almost by surprise - glitchy introduction ‘Infinite Love Without Fulfillment’ segues into the now-iconic opening glugs of ‘Genesis’, and while the singer’s voice is in the most part used as another instrument, shrouded in reverb and manipulated in unusual directions, rather than a vehicle for lyrical themes, ‘Oblivion’’s hook of “see you on a dark night” is sung as clear as day, and gave Claire Boucher her first anthem.

‘Visions’ manages to tread an almost incomprehensible line across its length; ‘Eight’ is a swam of intelligible lyrics and gloopy synths that shouldn’t be remotely danceable, but every twist and turn manages to lodge itself in your brain and become almost irritatingly catchy. ‘Be A Body’ and ‘Colour Of Moonlight’ become singalongs almost by accident, a mass of bodies all yelling a variety of intelligible syllables. Like the hook in ‘Genesis’ bringing a pop dagger to an album of cloudy, thudding production, and the flooring vocal stretch in ‘Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)’ that emerges out of nowhere, showing her ability for a mere second before disappearing back underneath the reverb and shimmering production, the two matching up is where ‘Visions’’ genius lies, and why the album truly marked Grimes out as one of the best young producers in the world.

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