Grimes at Empty Bottle | Concert preview

Claire Boucher sounds like a baby dolphin over Autechre. It works better if you think of her as a weird keyboard, not a pop star.
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By Brent DiCrescenzo |
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Give up on understanding Grimes. Visions, the debut album of Claire Boucher’s inside-out art-dance act, doesn’t make a lick of sense. The Canadian’s lyrics, if they can even be called that, are meringue gibberish. Here and there, a genuine word will form—“boy,” “body” or “skin” most often—but largely Boucher is doing rhythmic gymnastics with her larynx.

She dolphin cackles and diva shrieks. On “Eight.” she sounds like a mouse scampering about and trying to avoid the stomps of a Transformer. Her high, high notes can shatter crystal and curl Mariah Carey’s toes. At the beginning of “Nightmusic,” she gurgles so much like a newborn baby you’ll fight the urge to shove a pacifier in your ear.

Boucher, soon to turn 24, even looks like a pixie. A bowl of bangs hangs above her round face, and two perpendicular button ears jut off her head like handles on a sippy cup.

All that being said, Visions is oddly alluring, as long as you get past the notion of it being broken R&B or off pop. Her voice is a weird organic synthesizer more than a form of communication. When the tempos slow, as on the back half of the album, the music turns into what Aphex Twin or Autechre does, only adorable. And that is some feat.

Now Grimes is at that precarious moment when an artist who has heretofore existed only in computers must step on stage and present vague, layered laptop music to an audience. Some will want her to be a postmodern pop star. But Boucher will be better served by letting
her voice do the break dancing, not her body.

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