Some years ago now when the Manic Street Preachers had the audacity to criticize The White Stripes for being lazy in their song writing, for not spending enough time crafting their songs and putting out inferior tunes I disagreed strongly. I thought that on the whole the White Stripes ethos and approach was the right one for them. It made sense, it fitted well with their style, their music, their energy and their urgency, and it gave all those who just couldn't wait to hear more less time to have to wait to feed their hunger. 'Visions', the new album from Grimes is her forth release in just two years, her third under the Grimes moniker and the first for 4AD! So the question is more-or-less the same. Does it follow that such a prolific output has meant that the quality has suffered as a consequence and does it matter?
The thirteen tracks and forty eight minutes that make up 'Visions' are certainly not half baked, shoddily arranged affairs aching for more care and attention. They have presence, immediacy, individuality and hooks a plenty. Canadian Claire Boucher, Grimes, has been tagged with a DIY/Chill-Wave/Witch-House label in the past but that is at the very least doing her a disservice and more importantly missing the mark. She is far more than just part of a trendy new wave of savvy, credible, independent female artists, she is potentially the one who could break through to be the definitive artist.
The electro infused beats drive the up-beat rhythms as disco drenched mock-opera's swap places with gorgeously hypnotic pop. The glorious blend of 80's synth-pop, Jean-Michel Jarre sound scapes, cinematic scores and underground influences creates a heady mix. 'Genesis' is like a more rounded, instantly accessible, version of Kraftwerk with a McLaren 'Madam Butterfly' slant woven in. 'Oblivion' is Julee Cruise on speed revolving around a simple but utterly effective synth sequence punctuated by strings and contrasting keys. Even the very short tracks such as 'Eight', at 1min49secs, still work incredibly well. Almost Gorillaz in its make-up and attitude it shows off Grimes creativity and style brilliantly. 'Vowels = Space And Time' over layers Boucher's high harmonies and sets them against a low key arrangement of understated keyboards and drum machines producing something you'd imagine Madonna selling an organ for. 'Symphonia (My Wait Is U)' meanwhile shows off a more ambient side to Grimes. The gentle vocal delivery is put further back into the mix as the Orbital like sound track that scores the song flows menacingly below.
There are a couple of minor blips on 'Visions' where a considered decision to edit 13 tracks down to 10 would have made for a tighter, stronger balanced, package but on the whole Grimes first high profile release is a stunning success. As for there being any potential issues over output vs quality, well, they are unwarranted. If you've got the talent, if you're creative cup runneth over, if you have the opportunity to seize the moment then regardless of the fact that it may not be the norm to release so much material in relatively quick succession you should do it regardless. Grimes clearly has talent and creativity by the bucket load so expectations are, based on past and present performance, justifiably high.