Music Review: Grimes — Violence

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Friday, September 27th, 2019 at 10:27 AM
Music Review: Grimes — Violence by Ben McCullough
Press Photo: Eli Russell Linnetz

The first time I heard a song by the electronic synth-pop artist Grimes, the only thought that came to me was “whoa...weird.” I had never heard anything like it, and because of this, it was hard for me to process. I didn’t know how I felt about the high-pitched, echoing vocals that sounded like it came from an instrument rather than a persons mouth, nor the frantic synthesizer-driven bass lines and solos. It did not take long for me to realize I loved the way it sounded.  

Grimes first two albums came out in 2010, and since then she has put out two more LPs, the most recent being “Art Angels” in 2015, along with a number of singles. In March of this year, Grimes announced her newest album, “Miss_Anthropocene.” She stated that, “it is a concept album about the anthropomorphic Goddess of climate change: a psychedelic, space-dwelling demon/beauty-Queen who relishes the end of the world,” and that “each song will be a different embodiment of human extinction as depicted through a pop star Demonology.”   

Her most recent single, “Violence,” seems to be about the abusive relationship between humans and the earth. In the intro and choruses she sings: “Baby it’s violence, you can't see what I see. You can't see what I see cause you, ha, ha, you feed off hurting me,” implying that humans are not capable of fully seeing/knowing what they're doing to the Earth in terms of its destruction, and that humans thrive off the cost of harming the planet. However, Grimes follows with, “you wanna make me bad, pay me back, and I like it like that, and I like it like that.” This could mean that humans will eventually make the Earth so bad that they will no longer be able to survive, becoming extinct, and paying back the earth by allowing it to recover.  

It's hard to tell if the character that Grimes is portraying yearns for the end of mankind or the complete end of the world. It's exciting to hear a pop song that's not a “time to party” or broken-hearted narrative. “Violence,” along with another single released for the album, titled “We Appreciate Power,” both take steps past the genre of pop music, experimenting with elements of the industrial genre to create a darker, more serious, electronically-driven sound. “Violence” sounds like something that would play during a do-or-die sequence in a video game, however in a room full of lasers, I could also find myself dancing to it.  

The intro lyrics are hard to make out; it seems like she forgoes clarity in order to utilize her voice more like a lead synth part. The bass comes in resembling a synthwave song from the '80s, but Grimes' airy, AutoTuned vocals add an extra element of originality, pushing the song beyond the standard synthwave feel and sound. 

The lyrics and bassline throughout the song are repetitive, yet so catchy that it does nothing to harm how entertaining the track is. There is enough substance in the various layers of sound that keep the song feeling fresh, from start to finish. The final chorus of the song builds up with vibrant electrical flare, not only in terms of the instrumental, but also with how Grimes' voice is mixed in. 

On previous albums, I tended to have a difficult time making out her lyrics, however, they came across more clear on this track, with the exception of the intro. 

This is one of my favorite tracks from Grimes as of yet. “Violence” already has me deep in thought and speculation about the concepts behind the rest of “Miss_Anthropocene.”


Tags: music review

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