Claire Boucher—aka Grimes—released her first new material in nearly two years in late June. The self-purported summer jam "Go" was written in collaboration with fellow dream poppers, Blood Diamonds. In a press release, Boucher said, "It’s our summer jam so we figured we should put it out cuz I am very bored of waiting to finish my album b4 releasing new music haha." It’s probably safe to say fans aren’t enjoying the wait either, and “Go” was a welcome reprieve from the Grimes-less two years her fans have had to endure.
Grimes premiered the single on June 26 on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show, and she’s just supplemented the hit with an apocalyptic video inspired by Dante’s Inferno. She said in a statement:
“It's our take on Dante's inferno. The circles of hell reflect more contemporary issues though. We shot a bunch at the salton sea which is basically an apocalyptic wasteland filled with dead fish because of human carelessness, the bullet hole hallway a la korn freak on a leash etc etc. If you look closely you can find clues. Haha, but in the usual fashion it is also abstract enough to just be a trippy visual accompaniment to the song.”
“Go” debuted along with two other new tracks—“David” and “Sleepwalking”—at NYC’s Governor’s Ball in June—and it was originally written for Rihanna. (Both artists are part of the Roc Nation family.) Alas, the risqué pop icon declined. Boucher tweeted:
“also for those at gov ball, u should stick around for my final song because its special & top secret & new, actually im playin 3 new songs”
“but the last song is one me and @BLOOD_DIAMOND5 wrote for rihanna but they turned it down it so its kinda different from regular grimes”
Indeed it is a bit different from the standard Grimes. But it still has a little something extra than would have been the case had Rihanna accepted the song. Boucher employs a pop vocal style while singing over a hip-hop beat typical of modern Top 40, and the trenchant synth leads really bury their hooks during the vocal respites, but there’s a brooding ethos fortified by the wonky rhythms and dreamy textures typical of Grimes. It really is a solid summer jam.
The three new tracks do indicate a markedly new musical era for Grimes, though. While the hallmarks of 2012’s gloriously grimy Visions remain discernible in her new music, they’ve been superseded by a suffusion of overwhelming pop sensibility. Boucher grasps at the sonic vestiges that made her last album so fresh—check out the dynamic framework of “Oblivion” and tell me it doesn't feel like something's missing. The synths subtly prop her delicate vocals as she masterfully pieces together a supremely imaginative song.
In “Go,” Boucher strains to summon diva power (that just isn't there) to her voice in order to execute the song’s vocal hooks, which—when placed side by side with “Oblivion”—come off as weak and trite. Yes, she recognizes that the song is “kinda different from regular grimes,” but so are “David” and “Sleepwalking.” In fact, those even further lack the Grimes grit we’ve grown to love. Grimes, I’m sorry—you’re not a pop star. But that’s ok, because we don’t want you to be.
Just do you Claire, just do you.