My choice for Nick’s ‘I Can’t Believe We Hadn’t Had This Already’ round elicited a disapproving sneer from our illustrious and sage leader when he walked in, late, to the strains of Belly of the Beat…or Kill VS Main…or some such.
It appears that my choice was ill conceived in that:
a) We had already had a couple of songs played from it at the Xmas round up last year (technically only one as far as I am concerned as Realiti is not on my version of the record and I, therefore, don’t consider it as part of the whole).
b) It’s only been around for about ten months.
Well, I see the first point as an irrelevance (we’ve never played the album) and I see the second point as…an irrelevance too! The irony is that Grimes has been mentioned far more times at record club than the band that made Rob’s record (I’m not going to give it away by mentioning it by name) and, hence, of the two, I am much more surprised it hadn’t yet been featured at the club. As a side note, I’m not surprised at all that neither Nick or Steve’s albums had passed us by up to this point!
But, seeing as Art Angels is a work of genius, a signpost to the future of pop music, an enduring classic (I’d put money on it) in its infancy, I felt it was about time somebody did the decent thing and took it along. It is also one of only a handful of records that everyone in my family is nuts about…well, maybe not my parents, but my wife and kids seem to love it just as much as I do.
And it’s not hard to see why. Because what Grimes is doing on Art Angels is stunning. Listening closely tonight to Belly of the Beat, trying to see what it is that makes the record so special, it struck me that it is the production (Claire Boucher did everything on this album, including the engineering!) that is particularly breathtaking. One of the albums shyest tracks, Belly of the Beat is, ostensibly, an acoustic strum laid over a programmed drum beat with some typically sweet vocals floating eight miles high above the instrumentation. Strip away the production and you’d be left with something lovely…but unremarkable, perhaps. Listen closely, however, and you’ll hear the workings of what is, surely, one of the great minds working in music today. Sounds come and go in torrents, gush and then recede, swirl and distort but, crucially, never feel forced or over-considered. The song itself never really does much, there’s no rousing singalong chorus, no real hooks, but it also never repeats, never gets lazy, constantly keeps you guessing and, consequently, leaves you wanting more. And more is what you get, because each and every song (even the weird little ones, the grit in the oyster, if you will) sound amazing. Art Angels is such a complete work, 45 minutes of aural, and cerebral, bliss, art masquerading as pop. I worry for Grime’s next album because it may never appear this natural, this unforced again. With Art Angels she’s pulled back the curtain, revealed the magic and, in the process, made things very difficult for her future self.
But worrying about something that may never happen makes no sense at all and so whilst I wait to see what her next move will be, I plan to wear out my copy of Art Angels whilst regularly reminding Rob of how it’s actually a much better album than a scuzzy 50 year old relic with a banana on the front. Whoops. I may have just let the cat out of the bag!
Steve listened: No need to get all defensive…It’s a great album although I wouldn’t have said that it was a classic one that we have failed to listen to yet, whereas a certain recording with a banana cover…is. I would also argue that Mr Cope’s entry into the world of music also fits that bill. But here’s me being all defensive of the other choices when Grimes’ album is, I agree, a pop masterpiece. It’s also a possible intersection in the musical Venn diagram between my tastes and my children’s. So, I will inevitably buy it and listen to a lot…..in the car.
Rob listened: We’ve only had 8 or 9 rounds of DRC since this record was released (slowing up guys…), and 3 or 4 of those had prescribed themes. So, on balance, I can very well believe that we haven’t had ‘Art Angels’ yet.
Which is not to say that it wasn’t a welcome arrival. I bought it when it came out, on the strength of the blistering ‘Kill V Maim’. I loved the album but never really allowed it to sink it’s hooks into me, and without the early attachment, it has sunk out of sight. Hearing it again reminded me how laser bright, mercilessly catchy and gobsmackingly inventive it is. Hearing all three wrapped up in one package is very, very rare and so I concur with Tom, this is a special record.
Glad we didn’t have to wait any longer.