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Art Angels [Explicit]
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Spanning over 14 tracks, the new album features collaborations with Janelle Monáe and newcomer, Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes. It was recorded primarily in her home studio in Los Angeles, CA, where she relocated to in 2014. Like all of her previous albums, Art Angels was written and recorded entirely as a solo endeavor. The new album features more live instrumentation than ever before on a Grimes record. She plays piano, guitar and violin, continuing her evolution as a musician and a producer for her most ambitious album to date.
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I am upgrading Grimes "Art Angels" CD to 5-stars - the Mp3 version still deserves 4 stars IMO. This is probably the first time I've bought an Mp3 AND CD album (couldn't help it - I just couldn't wait!). Yet the CD-Version has proven to be WAY better than the Amazon Mp3. While it is still heavily compressed, it does not clip horribly like the Mp3's did. The worst track, "Flesh Without Blood" came up clean (see attached image). In addition, the original release of "Realiti" is on the CD, which is one of my favorite Grimes tracks. So, not only does the CD sound better, I've got one more track to love.
I'll pretend that Claire AKA Grimes heard my plea for good fidelity and tweaked the CD release just in time. Thanks!
I am now wondering if Amazon, when ripping Mp3s applies additional compression that is NOT needed in this day and age. Maybe this was a freak accident. Lesson learned - even though there are plenty of clipped CDs out there, I'll avoid buying Mp3s in the future.
Compared to her other work, this new album is way more accessible through and through, despite the fact that I agree with one review site's assessment that this album is like listening to the radio-every track seems very different from the last. It makes the album a bit of a wanderfest - like Grimes couldn't decide on a direction for the sound to go. Or perhaps she was ready to show off her apparently vast range.
The thread that holds this thing together seems to come from the lyrical side. Grimes seems more confident in her voice and lyrics than before, bringing them front and center. She sounds sickly sweet at moments, lovely at others, usually bright and cheery, but lyrical themes suggest a blend of humor, satire, love, anti-pop or even sadness. She asserts in cheeky rebellion that "I'll never be your dream girl", or hopelessly that "I could tell you a truth or a lie . . . I could tell you people are good in the end - why, why would I?". She chants like a cheerleader when she says "b-e-h-a-v-e nevermore / you gave up being good when you declared a state of war . . . / sometimes people say I'm a big time bomb". Not really the lyrics of a woman trying to stand on stage with today's pop princesses.
Certainly it is no Visions, with its typically darkly layered sounds and Claire's withdrawn and sometimes hard to decipher voice, and in many ways that is a good thing. Like Radiohead, in a way, she is clearly one to try and re-invent her sound on each album, and I truly hope she keeps pushing the envelope and stirring her own sound. Art Angels is full of cool sounds and surprises. It is an album that I think is going to grow on me, and which I will probably ultimately listen to more than Visions. Visions was brilliant, but it is hard to say that all its tracks had good "hooks". This work is a lot catchier.
The Mp3 album loses a star for the following reasons. While I was pleasantly surprised to see that "Realiti" made it onto the track list, the re-mixed version IMO is horrible! It sounds totally out of place and uninspired to me in this version, with slower pacing and an odd reverb and so on. I LOVED the track on YouTube, hopefully that variant comes on the CD.
The second reason is bigger - this album is horribly overcompressed - every track I've checked thus far clips from start to finish. Do you hear that glaring, piercing midrange and treble? Do you hear static pops and clicks? Notice how "etched" the album seems, particularly with tracks like "Flesh Without Blood"? That is the contribution of too much dynamic compression.
Claire / Grimes - If you ever even read this stuff, PLEASE tell whoever finalizes this stuff to stop ruining fidelity with too much compression - your music is gorgeous and your fans want to hear it like you heard it!
have been a fan for a long time, and waited for this (ordered as soon as i woke, release day). it's been a long wait, but worth it.
small thing, but, (so far, at least), i prefer the 'realiti' demo that's been out for a while. the new version's good, but the demo kills it. everything else...loving it, and going for another listen in a bit. buy this!
as a big fan of many of the tracks from "visions," I was expecting a good album. But this album is better than visions. The occasional tendency of tracks on visions to sound like a pop sketch/experiment more than a structured pop song, has been replaced by a confidence and undeniable telent on Art Angels to weave exhilirating creative details into rigorously structured songs. Grimes clearly worked these songs over and the product is worth all of her careful work. i love to see such confidence, intelligence, and originality in full colors, as grimes has done with Art Angels.
If I could steal songwriting credit for one song in the history of the world, it just might be "Flesh, Without Blood". Boy that's a good one.