Is This Really So Original?

Ever since hearing her Geidi Primes cassette about halfway through 2010, I’ve been trying to see what’s so alluring about this hype enigma that is Grimes. With something of a cutsie-minimalism to her solo-synth approach, it came off as something tolerable, the kind of sound that you’ll bob your head along to encouragingly as your friend has fun making music. But that’s exactly what Geidi Primes was, a record made because Boucher wanted to do what all her friends were doing. It had some surface value, but little bubbling underneath. Which was understandable, since Boucher was so new to songwriting.

But since then the buzz has built incessantly, with the similarly blasé Halfaxa and the re-release of Geidi Primes. But now with her 4AD debut  Visions, there’s nothing ambiguous about her intentions; this LP can’t be brushed off as a negligible hip passtime. The reality is, Boucher has gotten major attention with marginally better music.

While on Visions the production value is leaps and bounds ahead of her first two records, the songs remain half-baked and ultimately unmemorable. Every synthesized line sounds like it’s queued up from a list of Casio presets, and while layering bits of that Casio canon under a guise of reverb will get you dancing, nothing will be remembered at the end of each two-minute space-vamp. It’s a record of re-hashed ideas and empty calories.

Like her Arbutus label-mate Raphaelle Standell-Preston, Boucher loops and layers her voice, but unlike Grimes, the Braids/Blue Hawaii frontwoman can actually sing. When you take away the overdubbing and effects on Visions, all you’re left with is a thin voice singing half-melodies. Her delivery is impersonal and uninterested; it would be surprising if the lyrics mean anything to her.

At its best this record supplies filler dance tunes for a DJ set, and at its worst it’s little more than shitty, pseudo-Bjork noise trying in vain to capture the intense nostalgic delicacy of How to Dress Well. If she’s really emulating pop hits, why is none of this sticking in my head?