Format: NPR First Listen (Spotify)
“Visions,” the third album from Canadian synth pop singer Claire Boucher under the name Grimes, is a two-headed beast.
The record is front-loaded with some of its best tracks, including “Genesis,” the best song here, which glides on a moody synth phrase and Boucher’s fragile vocals. “Genesis” sets the tone for the six tracks, putting a futuristic, alien bent on ’80s synth pop.
Things turn moody with the gloomy, two-minute-long “Visiting Statue.”
Where the front half of “Visions” is joyous synth pop, the back half is more of a marriage of ambient and dream pop.
“Skin” comes near the end, a melancholy mood piece that is the highlight of the back side. There’s a soothing quality in these tracks, but while they’re more pleasing, they’re also more forgettable.
The triumph of “Visions” is that it all holds together, a fact mostly owed to Boucher’s production skills as well as her wispy voice.
“Visions” may recall the ’80s, a decade of which I’m not fond, but at least it lacks the cheese of Bon Iver’s “Beth/Rest.”
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.