“I’ll never be your dream girl,” sang Grimes on the last line of her aggressively poppy 2015 album Art Angels. On her fifth record, the Canadian producer embodies a living nightmare: Miss Anthropocene, goddess of climate change. So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth, the slow and sensual opener (described by Grimes as “a super-dark, heavy ballad about fighting Balrogs in the centre of the Earth that is a sex metaphor”), fanfares a conceptual darkening with endless layers of synth and gravity-well bass. Grimes has been listening to a lot of Burial and Vangelis, and it shows in the sci-fi soundtrack gloss; 4ÆM’s racing breakbeats and peppy chorus will indeed grace forthcoming game Cyberpunk 2077, in which Grimes plays cybernetic-jawed rocker Lizzy Wizzy.
Darkseid sees a welcome return from Taiwanese rapper Pan, who guested on Art Angels under the name Aristophanes; her breathlessly intent flow adds urgency to the pulsing sub-bass and crunching beats. Delete Forever, meanwhile, written about the death of Lil Peep and the opioid crisis, reminds you Grimes can do beauty and emotion as well as worldbuilding, with heartfelt acoustic strums and even banjo; here and on the birdsong-and-melodica adorned headrush Idoru, her voice reveals new richness of expression. Miss Anthropocene is a deep, dark trip – shame the climate crisis bit isn’t also part of Grimes’s wild imagination.