Claire Boucher sometimes feels like the first 21st century pop star. The laptop composer was nearly 24 years old when she signed to the illustrious British indie label 4AD, following two low-profile albums of dense homemade pop. Her early work, like the [*Darkbloom*](http://www.rhapsody.com/artist/grimes/album/darkbloom?ocode=social_user&pcode=social_user&cpath=Link&rsrc=album) EP she split with fellow Montreal electronic artist [d’Eon](http://www.rhapsody.com/artist/d-eon?ocode=social_user&pcode=social_user&cpath=Link&rsrc=artist), featured snatches of melodic power songs like “Crystal Ball” and the muffled techno hum of “Vanessa.” Lo-fi instrumental samples nuzzled against Grimes’ breathy, distant voice; on “Urban Twilight,” blurred coos circle atop a throbbing bass that gradually muscles to the front of the mix. It’s unmistakably indie, but it’s also as insistent and propulsive as a Katy Perry song.
After her 4AD debut [*Visions*](http://www.rhapsody.com/artist/grimes/album/visions?ocode=social_user&pcode=social_user&cpath=Link&rsrc=album), which swelled her audience as much as her already eclectic palette, Boucher was on the red carpet at the Barclays Center conducting interviews for MTV Style. It could have felt like a bizarre anomaly, but instead it felt exactly right. That she was an artist holding court in the spotlight wasn’t because *Visions* was a pop compromise. A bedroom GarageBand effort like its predecessors,*Visions* was full of melodic tracks and two-minute scraps like the tinny klaxon behind the glitchy shuffle of “Vowels = Space and Time” or the music-box clicks and whispers of the spacious, Bjork-esque “Skin.” But gradually Boucher’s sweet, aching melodies percolated through the whispering fog to lodge in your head. In true pop-song fashion, singles “Oblivion” and “Genesis” benefited from indelible videos, one featuring Boucher in [poised control of platoons of beefcake](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtH68PJIQLE), the other [exploiting the post-apocalyptic fierceness](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FH-q0I1fJY) of rapper (and daughter of *Hustler*’s CFO) Brooke Candy. The songs colonized dorm-room music libraries and YouTube favorites lists everywhere. So when she was standing on the Barclays carpet [inventing questions](http://www.mtv.com/videos/misc/949057/red-carpet-report-2-chainz.jhtml) for 2 Chainz, Boucher didn’t look out of place, but rather the coolest girl at the party. In 2013, Boucher signed to the management arm of Roc Nation, the same team that manages [Rihanna](http://www.rhapsody.com/artist/rihanna?ocode=social_user&pcode=social_user&cpath=Link&rsrc=artist). Her 2014 single “Go,” rumored to be a RiRi castoff, was a lustful, all-in pop explosion, yet Boucher announced it wouldn’t be on her delayed fourth album (which was ultimately scrapped). In March 2015, a track from that abandoned album, [“REALiTi”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9XKLqGqwLA), sent fans into anticipatory ecstasy, wondering what to expect next. In October, they got an idea: the first single from [*Art Angels*](http://www.rhapsody.com/artist/grimes/album/art-angels-4ad?ocode=social_user&pcode=social_user&cpath=Link&rsrc=album), the gloriously overtitled [“Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv9YoYCKNoE) sets two swooning melodies – [a bouncing, clattering dance-pop anthem](http://app.rhapsody.com/Alb.204103207) backed with a delicate, unshrouded, unusually direct ballad – to an epic, seven-minute video. Trust us: Grimes really is a pop star.