“Baby, believe me” — so goes a hook on Grimes’ first song off of Art Angels, her follow-up to the cult favorite Visions; one can read it as a plea to a loved one gone rogue, but it’s also tempting to think of Grimes speaking to her listening audience, which has been waiting for definitive new Grimes music for more than three years. Gone are the ethereal electronica soundscapes that marked her previous work: “Flesh without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream,” which scores her latest two-part music video visual explosion, is mostly guitar and drums relentlessly propelling forward. (And are giving me “Since U Been Gone” flashbacks.)
With her signature elaborate costume changes, heavy anime influences (especially in the video’s title card and in the use of unnatural contact lenses), and seasonally-appropriate gory imagery, Grimes gives us a peak into her mental phantasmagoria. Characters are given names like LV., Roccoco Basilisk, Kill v. Maim (also a track on the album), and Skreechy Rat, while Grimes brings them to life in elaborate costumes: An angel with a cowboy hat and glowing eyes; a purple bouffant-topped Marie Antoinette, a cave-dwelling gamer.
Though the video is split into two parts, the same images run through them. However, whereas “Flesh without Blood” barrels through a kiss-off, “Life in the Vivid Dream” is a slower, more openly melancholy interlude of sorts. “You wanna leave the world with me,” Grimes coos — even as the video shows her Marie Antoinette character running up a hill with a knife in her torso, blood covering her costume and face. The contrast between image and sound is something Grimes has played with throughout her musical career, and “Flesh without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream” kicks off Art Angels promisingly, and pretty spookily as well.
Per her usual modus operandi, Grimes wrote, directed, edited, colored, and art directed the double video. Watch it below, and keep an eye and ear out for the rest of Art Angels on November 6.