New music is “imminent,” according to Grimes.
Last week, the Canadian electro-pop artist took to Twitter to reply to fans wondering where her followup to 2015’s Art Angels is: “This is [an] embarrassingly long time to not release an album haha,” she wrote.
It’s not embarrassing but it has been a long time, especially given the fact that Grimes has spent the better part of 2018 promising everyone a new album. These promises, in fact, date back to last December, when she wrote, in another Twitter response, “Just played label new music they rly dig it so hopefully smthn soon.”
So, 11 whole months later, why haven’t we received any new music from Grimes yet?
Trouble started shortly after that December update, when she hinted at frustrations with her “shit” label, 4AD, but then quickly backtracked in an apology. (Grimes currently owes her label one more album and has said, in the same statement where she trashed 4AD, that she might go “fully independent,” which is speculatively a reason for the delay of new music.) Soon after that, she posted a now-deleted Instagram photo of herself back in the studio “making a million beats.”
And while fans have heard very little of those beats — other than a few small snippets she previewed for fans in June on Twitter — Grimes has had a productive year outside of her own solo project.
A 'highly collaborative' year
In one of Grimes’ earlier updates, she hinted at a “highly collaborative” process, and perhaps those collaborations weren’t for her own album. Instead, she’s been featured on five new songs this year, all on other artists’ records.
First, there was Janelle Monae’s critically acclaimed 2018 release, Dirty Computer. Following Art Angels’ standout collaboration between Grimes and Monae, “Venus Fly,” Grimes helped write, and is featured on, Dirty Computer's “PYNK,” which trades the super-charged energy of the former for a more subdued finger-snapping bop on the latter. It’s arguably Grimes’ best work of 2018.
Then there’s Grimes’ K-pop turn on girl group Loona’s “love4eva.” As someone who seems to love reaching out and working with artists in different genres and countries — as evidenced on her Art Angels track “Scream,” featuring Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes — Loona was an ideal act for Grimes to experiment with on a more polished, bubblegum pop sound with flourishes of video game-esque blips. It’s a track that strays slightly from her usual electro-pop signature but “love4eva” still possesses Grimes’ musical DNA, and is an exciting extension of her sound in a new sonic environment.
On the opposite end of her musical spectrum, we have her two latest collaborations, Euringer’s “The Medicine Does Not Control Me” and Poppy’s “Play Destroy,” two tracks that explore a darker, more rock-centric side of Grimes. On top of that, she is slated to appear on alt-metal band Bring Me the Horizon’s upcoming album with a track the band described to Kerrang! as a “dark rave song.”
These varied collabs are a great sign of Grimes’ productivity, but are these signifiers of the kind of music that's on the way, or just a way for her to flex some extracurricular muscles and excise sounds that don’t fit into her own album? If we were to refer to the two previews she posted back in June, it may point to the latter, but part of the thrill of Grimes is to expect the unexpected.
Her whirlwind relationship
Let’s not forget the flip side of Grimes’ unpredictability and perhaps the main reason the pop star remained on everyone’s minds, and news feeds, all year: the elephant-sized relationship that is Grimes and multi-billionaire Elon Musk.
In May, the two debuted their relationship on the red carpet of the Met Gala. It was revealed that the two first bonded over a joke that Musk wanted to tweet but saw that Grimes had already posted. (It was a pretty nerdy pun that involved baroque art and AI so, naturally, the two hit it off.)
Social media later became an integral part of how the public engaged with Grimes and Musk’s relationship, with her defending his company Tesla’s firing of employees who were trying to unionize (she called it “fake news”) as well as his monetary ties to the Republican party (she says “every aerospace company has to donate to republicans in order to function”).
Obviously, this has stirred a lot of controversy for Grimes, whose fanbase is perhaps adverse to the corporate elitism of someone like Musk. After all, Grimes herself raged against corporate ideology when she spoke out against her own label. This leaves many fans pondering if Grimes herself has changed and whether that will affect her music and the way people take in her music. Because, heck, what do tweets about the U.S. absorbing Canada to beat Russia even mean? (Grimes has even told fans that she almost destroyed her career "like 5 times this year," on Twitter, potentially referring to these controveries or other behind-the-scenes turmoil we're unaware of.)
But, all we can do is speculate for now until new music hits our ears. And from the sounds of it, new music is coming very soon. It’s been a chaotic roller-coaster ride for Grimes fans this year, and while the star herself has been very vocal over the months, we’re done hearing her talk through tweets. We’re ready for the music to speak for her.