What’s that quote, well behaved women rarely make history? Despite its appropriation, fated to appear in neon on the walls of overpriced cocktail bars, and the confusion about who – if anyone – actually said the damn thing, this is an appropriate mindset with which to enter Ms Anthropocene. Because Grimes is no stranger to controversy, her synthesis from trauma healing rave goth through pop princess into ADHD producer, and now pregnant with a mini Elon Musk, Claire Boucher has always raged against any and all boxes that the media has tried to push her into.
So now, five years on from Art Angels, we have Ms Anthropocene, a concept album about the anthropomorphic Goddess of Climate Change, a psychedelic, space-dwelling demon/beauty queen who relishes the end of the world. This title is a pun – ‘Anthropocene’ being current geological age, and the addition of ‘Ms’ a play on misanthropy – an emotion which anyone with half a brain will feel towards our geological zeitgeist.
After the ambient opener So Happy I Fell Through the Earth, we kick in with Darkseid, an opulent, enveloping swim through thick treacle, interspersed with spoken-word outcries from 潘PAN and Grimes relentlessly chanting opiate slumber: “Unrest is in our soul, we don’t want our bodies anymore.”
4AEM takes us back to our rave Grimes we know so well, whilst My Name Is Dark and Before The Fever muses (possibly) on her impending motherhood. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around is a siren song to suicide, musically driving as a celebratory elegy opening with “I shot myself yesterday”, a chorus of “I’ll tie my feet too rocks and drown / you’ll miss me when I’m not around”. Absolute banger We Appreciate Power, a bonus track, ends the original content on the album, with tracks 12 to 15 being remixes of previous tracks, begging to be cracked out at 4am when you’ve had one too many.
And then we cycle back, because we need to listen Ms Anthropocene at least four times before it clicks. We also need to understand that it is informed with all the chaos Grimes has weathered in the past five years – the hatred, stereotyping, the box pushing, the tempestuous personality – drawn together in an ambient, ethereal and lucid statement about how so much of our lives is informed with contemporary depression. Why? Well, look at the world, it’s literally crumbling in all directions. No wonder we are all sad.
And once it clicks, it’s not far off priceless. Except, maybe, the acoustic third track, which should absolutely suffer the fate of nominative determinism (Delete Forever). What we’re left with what can be summed up, essentially, with an Oscar Wilde quote: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” There’s the feeling that, behind her mask of the anthropomorphic goddess of climate change, maybe, just maybe, this is Grimes’ most honest and reflective album yet.