It’s hard to take Grimes seriously at first when the album art for Visions screams practically the opposite message of the music itself. Take a good hard look to the left of this text. This is the cover for an electronic album solely created by Canadian musician Claire Boucher. She’s certainly making a statement here about art’s relationship to sound, although to anyone ignorant to her sound it may be off-putting at first. Don’t be fooled by this book’s cover though; Visions turns out to be a solid LP and a shining example of what Boucher is capable of.
Trends today seem to rip everything down to its essentials, and Visions takes this concept to heart. Each beat can carry a dance, above which every keyboard movement or lyrical cue is layered around in mostly empty space. In “Be a Body,” Boucher inputs her voice like a hazy narrator, upbeat for the most part, with most sung parts bridged by various versions of her voice fluctuating. It’s a compilation that works because there’s so much happening and yet a flow emerges amidst the chaos. She’s not afraid to throw a quick intro track in either, “Infinite Love Without Fulfillment” being less than two minutes yet sufficiently infectious enough to enjoy the entire way through.
Where it’s easiest to get hooked though is in “Genesis” and “Oblivion,” two of Grimes’ definite hits. “Genesis” allows Boucher to playfully explore her piano over a simple beat, her voice echoing lightly into the background after each line. “Oblivion” is your classic electronic track, relying heavily on one catchy little riff to propel everything forward. Yet as with most of the tracks on Visions, it’s Boucher’s vocal presence that turns this album into an effort mostly middle-of-the-line. Her arrangements are inventive, fun, and don’t fall into any pattern with the actual music. “Eight” is a perfect example, where the sampled and modulated tracking is contrasted intensely by Boucher singing above it.
What’s hard to like about Visions though is that, while it hits a lot of high points in variance and construction, it’s not as accessible as it could be. Again, the trends today seem to be speaking through Grimes. Indie electronica has started to lean towards electronic music with migrating dance beats and a softer presence, and with artists like Boucher heading things up, it’s no surprise that this movement has some legs. Yet while “Visiting Statue” and “Skin” are solid tracks, they may pass by most listeners’ ears in favor of more accessible artists. Boucher’s abilities are not being questioned here, but sadly there’s always a prominent factor of whether or not an album is recommended for most people. So unless you have a clear affinity for the subtler electronic artists, you won’t find much to grab onto in Visions.