Sadie: Totally -- the record feels like a product of 2020, both in its calico electro sounds and the post-modern, nihilistic take on watching the world go up in flames. I agree the conceptual stuff is mostly secondary to the sonic exhilaration you get while listening. I think a handful of her themes were easy to parse, like how the record sounds like it's being delivered from a pro-global warming anti-hero. Songs like "We Appreciate Power" are in-your-face with with absurdist lyrics that read like a constitution for a new AI populous ("Pledge allegiance to the world's most powerful computer / Simulation is the future"). Looking closer at "Violence," you can draw a disturbing analogy between an abusive relationship and humanity's sadistic/masochistic relationship with the Earth. Honestly, it's sort of like a genre novel that I would probably deem too nerdy to pick up and unpack. At times it plays as pretty gimmicky, but ultimately you do "submit" to it. I guess I will pledge allegiance to the big, smart computer!
More than genre, the production is thrilling because of how far-reaching it is. "New Gods" hypnotizes with its goth synths over her girlish, digitized voice; "Darkseid," featuring frequent collaborator and Taiwanese artist 潘PAN, has a dark rap swagger and continues to make a case for globalized pop. As she trances on the sprawling "Before the fever," "This is the sound of the end of the world," and if that’s the case, I'm inclined to let it all burn if the apocalypse is going to sound that damn good. (Not actually, though.) But if anything, Miss Anthropocene is more of a prophecy of an AI-produced music future than anything else.
Dan: LOL, I'm bummed you wouldn't pick up the genre novel version of this record! And, yes, I agree: as much as I admire the music, I wouldn't want to live under the thumb of the AI capable of producing Miss Anthropocene. (Maybe this is what Andrew Yang was warning us all against?) As a piece of music, I liked its clanging, swaggering vibe even if I didn't always connect to the larger message.
Oddly enough, I recently re-watched the Steven Spielberg movie A.I., where Haley Joel Osment plays a robot-child dreaming of becoming a "real" boy, and it's funny how some of the turn-of-the-millennium anxieties about androids imitating human behavior have been replaced by this quasi-combative curiosity about humans becoming more like our algorithmically-minded overlords. Grimes has hinted that her next record will "move on" from some of the darker themes here, but I hope she doesn't abandon them entirely. She hasn't finished terraforming this strange planet yet.