It’s always interesting when musicians talk about other musicians. It’s even more interesting when musicians review other musicians’ work. Especially when the two artists are as stylistically disparate as you can get. Given the recent amount of hype it’s garnered in the weeks up until its release, it was only apt that Will Butler of Arcade Fire gave Grimes’ new album Art Angels a go.
Writing for The Talkhouse, a website where musicians write about other musicians, Butler begins with a point about how reiterative pop music is, saying, “Pop traditionally tries to recreate the world the listener already lives in, just with bigger cartoon eyes and soft corners on the tables.”
He then goes onto say that Art Angels comes from the world of 2000s pop, but personally I don’t really think Art Angels sounds too reminiscent of the noughties at all. Butler then says that he is ‘prejudiced’ against the music of the 00’s before admitting he actually admires Art Angels. Favourite track? Scream ft. Aristophanes, a Taiwanese rapper rapping in Mandarin.
Butler even goes so far as to call Grimes’ production charismatic. “The work is divine and human. I think of the RZA alone back in the ’90s, sampling and nudging and piecing together technology,” he says.
However, he then goes on a weird tangent about Elijah and the priests of Baal, quoting indecipherable nonsense in an attempt to sound cultured.
It doesn’t stop there. He THEN goes on to question whether he really likes Grimes’ new album at all, saying, “I just keep wondering if the funkiness is justified. There’s no reason for my doubt — it’s prejudicial.” He draws comparisons with Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Prince, seeming to insinuate that he almost had to force himself to like these revered artists, a point he seems to be making with Grimes’ new album
At one point he basically accuses Grimes of being a massive, self-pandering egotist, quoting the line “Can’t you see the enemy just isn’t me tonight?” out of track Butterfly, calling it a “classic Prince move – talking about himself”.
However, Butler does admit at the end that “Grimes is a genuine world builder” in deference to her creativity on the album, saying that, “it feels cold to stand outside her creation and judge it. It’s like watching the Big Bang from a different dimension.”
The whole interview sounds incredibly discordant and scattered. It’s not quite clear where exactly Butler stands on Grimes, but he seems to be slightly disdainful of her new album in tone.
Butler had better watch out though, as Grimes revealed on SiriusXMU that she wrote song California as a hate song for music website Pitchfork.
“It’s actually like a hate track for Pitchfork. Not for California, for like the music industry,” said Grimes when asked if the song was an ode to the state.
The hate song was written to express Grimes’ frustration at how the press handled the release of her song Go.
Who knows, maybe Grimes’ next song could include a hate song about Butler?
Art Angels is out now via 4AD. Buy it right here.