Geidi Primes (Arbutus Records, 2009)
For: Broadcast, Cocteau Twins, tUnE-yArDs
Byline: Genre-mixing, continent-hopping, underworld-spelunking tunes that gel an impressive range of instrumentation and styles into something that embraces, yet stands reactionary to the wonderful world of pop.
Claire Boucher’s press release to the TOME self-describes her music thusly: “I make weird pop music under the name Grimes.”
So... there’s just not a lot to go on here at first glance. But from the opening moments of her daring new record (released by Montreal’s Arbutus Records via cassette tape), if anything this assertion is a grossly modest understatement. Geidi Primes is about the weirdest of weird I might be willing to lump in with something anyone might even remotely consider to be “pop music.” Ukelele patterns, spooky multi-tracked vocals, gently rolling keyboard delays, funky drum beats and nervous percussion flood the headphones in a dizzying way that manages a calming composure throughout. The real draw here is especially the vocals, which display a fantastic versatility ranging from a vibrato-less, apathetic quality that reminds me of Broadcast, to soaring falsetto accompaniments recalling the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Frazer, always employing a mastery of melodies that at times border on heartbreaking and at others find themselves in the realm of Asian, melodic minor modes.
I guess if I’d have to place this in a “now” context, Grimes follows suit with what tUnE-yArDs accomplished last year in that one-woman-band-makes-booties-shake sort of way. But Boucher’s style is decidedly different and unique in that these songs are a.) much more reserved, and b.) have a twisted, darkly gothic attitude in them. A lot of this stuff feels very 80s-Cure style, with simple pop grooves and flattened synth foundations mixed with 808-clapped backbeats and hip hop bass. “I don’t want to break your heart in the dark,” Boucher sings on “Feyd Raucha Dark Heart,” embracing the haunted ghost that love can so often be. Fav track: “Grisgirs.” It’s got a beat that just won’t quit, hypnotically pounding like the tell-tale heart beneath a wooden floor of a piano hook and soft, contemplative singing. Overall, this shouldn't work - there's a blend of contrasting styles, instrumentation (from electric guitars to accordions and back again), and emotions that just seem counterintuitive to one another. The amazing thing is that it does work. Marvelously. Give this gal a few years to hone her skills, tighten up the song structures and stretch her legs, and you're looking at a potentially massive career in creativity.
A side note - “Rosa,” which sounds like an obvious pick for first single off this collection, only plays through half the track! Read: Dear Grimes, plz resend.
**Note - Arbutus Records has since re-uploaded the free digital copy of Geidi Primes! The link above is associated with this new download. Hooray!! Thank you to Grimes and Arbutus Records!!!