Grimes – Visions
is the rare pop album that feels like you’re traversing through the private mind of its creator. Claire Boucher coos and chirps her way over synth loops and dance beats not unlike your average pop star, only her vocals and song construction are far more mysterious and dreamlike, almost like you’re seeing her thoughts before they’ve fully formed. Boucher rides sweetly over soft electronic seas in songs like “Genesis” and “Oblivion,” while “Eight” is the other side of the coin, with Boucher awesomely screeching over a Knife
-style electro jam. Her visions may be strange indeed, but inviting; you won’t be able to get them out of your head.
Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
Did you think Sleigh Bells
were gonna soften up for their sophomore album? Maybe trim the hair metal guitars and jock jam beats and turn out some slick dance-pop? Hell no! Reign of Terror
sounds like the natural progression from 2010’s Treats
— guitars that pummel even harder, courtesy of better production; skittering industrial beats; and Alexis Krauss’ awesome voice, which can go from Poly Styrene
to Kylie Minogue
in a heartbeat. “Comeback Kid” is their rallying cry for this album, with Derek Miller’s twisted arrangement showing increasing deviousness. “Leader of the Pack” could actually blow out your speakers — that’s not an exaggeration. Their “ballads” have grown a pair, too; whereas Treats
’ “Rill Rill” got by on casual winsomeness, “End of the Line” is a genuinely emotional breakup song. Reign of Terror
won’t necessarily prove naysayers — and there are plenty of them — wrong that their music is ridiculous, but it’s such a badass refinement of their sound that it’s nothing short of swift kick to the groin of anyone in their way.