Although such an assumption could be entirely off base, the aesthetic side of Claire Boucher’s Grimes seems to me an affectation similar to the much maligned and discussed persona of one Lizzy Grant. Though Boucher hasn’t released an album under her birth name, her carefully constructed public visage is one of heavily puffed up weirdness. Instead of playing toward her looks like Grant does, Boucher’s persona is one of confrontation. Every aesthetic choice seems poised to make her appear as weird as possible, and major media outlets have latched onto that outlet in similar ways that they have to Grant. I’m not asking for asking for equal treatment for these two female stars, in fact quite the opposite. I’m all for artists putting as much work into the aesthetic side of their work as the musical, you just have to be able to back up those aesthetic choices with the music itself. Born To Die proved that Grant was all style and little substance, but Boucher’s background of work, including Visions, allows her this aesthetic freedom. Her schtick isn’t annoying, simply because she backs it up.

2010’s Geidi Primes, an opening slot for Lykke Li, and a fair amount of buzz surrounding Boucher at last year’s CMJ Music Marathon, have all contributed to the critical firestorm surrounding her at present. In an interview with Pitchfork, she said that Visions far surpasses her previous works, and as a fan of those previous records I was a bit skeptical. They seemed to me cohesive works in their own right and then Boucher disowned them as if they were collections of demos. If this album were to be as great as Boucher made it out to be it would be something truly outstanding. That being said, it doesn’t represent the same leaps and bounds that Boucher seemed to indicate that it might.

In fairness to Boucher, Visions is a triumph of composition in ways that previous efforts never approached, and nowhere is this more evident than on the lead single, ‘Oblivion’. This is one that’s been kicking around the internet since the end of 2011, but in the context of the album, its burbling synths and layers upon layers of breathy vocals seem even more stunning. It’s just one of those songs. You’re listening to the album pretty closely, but at the opening moments of tracks like this your ears perk up a bit more, you find your head nodding, your foot tapping and then four minutes later its back to the usual listening mode. Tracks like this are absolutely necessary to make an album feel fresh listen after listen, and though this album has its share - ‘Oblivion’ is the obvious one, but ‘Circumnambient’ and ‘Be A Body’ aren’t too far behind it - there still feels like a handful of wasted moments.

Yes, despite the highs, and all the lavish praise that has been and will be laid at the foot of this album, it just has this feel that while the high points are high, the low points are just a little boring. More than anything the album feels a bit front loaded. The whole stretch following the aforementioned ‘Be A Body’ just becomes a bit laborious. By ‘Nightmusic’, the immediacy of the first few tracks is sorely missed. Though ‘Skin’ represents a thoughtful stab at a different style than the insistent electro pop of most of the album, it, and much of the second half of the album just wears out its welcome within the first couple of listens.

That being said, the collective whole of this release does continue to hint at the promise of earlier efforts - supplanting the ever present solid songwriting with more fleshed out and complex arrangement. Its just that Boucher’s effort wears thin over the course of these 48 minutes. Were this an EP, it might have been a perfect release, but as it stands Visions, while improving on previous work, is not yet the career defining moment that Boucher seemed to suggest it might be. Really though, were any of us expecting that? While Boucher has been making music for an eternity in blog-rock years, her career is still in its infancy by many more tangible measures. Because of that fact, it is perhaps inappropriate to lambast Visions as a disappointment or a representation of unfulfilled promises. Rather, this album makes promises of its own. Its flashes of brilliance promise better work yet to come.