Following last year’s rather tremendous label debut proper from Tune-Yards, the 4AD Finishing School For Girls presents its first Class Of 2012 graduate. 23-year old Claire Boucher has been releasing low-key, lo-fi electro-pop under the name Grimes for the past two years, attracting the attention of mainstream publications – she was recently the subject of a short profile feature in Vogue – and indie taste-makers alike, but it’s her forthcoming third long-player Visions that has earned the astonishingly prolific Montreal native a place on the roster of one of history’s most iconic labels. Boucher’s DIY productions may indirectly reference past and present 4AD touchstones like the Cocteau Twins, Gang Gang Dance and Atlas Sound, but her bigger influences are more far-reaching, with obvious nods to Prince, Warp-style “intelligent” techno, Max Martin’s glossy factory-line pop and the kind of sensual, diva-led R&B that ruled the charts throughout most of the 1990s; indeed, whilst there are faint echoes of Talking Heads spin-off the Tom Tom Club all over Visions, it’s a fairly safe bet that Boucher is a bigger fan of Mariah Carey’s mega-hit “Fantasy” than the 1981 TTC track – “Genius Of Love” – it samples. As anyone following Grimes on Twitter will know, Boucher’s passion for music of all kinds is boundless: she can often be found tweeting through the night, gushing about some obscure disco tune she heard at a club or linking to a YouTube clip of TLC singing on TV back in the day, and she’s equally vocal about her own work, posting giddy updates every time she records a new track, utterly convinced each one is the best she’s ever written. Such wide-eyed enthusiasm is infectious, and although it’ll probably appeal to people who’d rather dance in their bedrooms than in a nightclub, it’s hard to keep still while listening to the bouncing bass-lines, snappy beats and insanely catchy melodies that form the backbone of this wonderful record. Highlights are too numerous to mention (although the cautiously curious would be well advised to check out the Cassie-esque “Oblivion”, perfect future-pop song “Circumambient” or “Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)”, which sounds like Liz Fraser emoting over chilled-out Euro house), but whilst the music alone is good enough to earn Visions the title of “2012’s first truly great album”, the best thing about it is knowing Boucher is already hard at work on a follow-up; at her current rate of improvement, that’s a very good reason to get very excited.
Visions is out February 21 in the U.S. and March 12 elsewhere on 4AD/ Arbutus