People who complain about the current state of pop music do not know who Grimes is.
Emmanuel Elone: People who complain about the current state of pop music do not know who Grimes is. "California", besides being a solid pop tune, has colorful and quirky electronic instrumentation that blend perfectly with Grimes' child-like vocals. To be sure, her lyrics are still nothing particularly of note, but one has to accept the musicianship and musicality of her work at the very least. "California" may not be reinventing pop music, but it is revitalizing it. [7/10]
Steve Horowitz: Grimes goes to the circus and channels Britney, Taylor, and all the young creative girls of pop and country into one playful state where cowboys pick up mermaids and art becomes magic. California is the land of hopes and dreams. And the sad truth Grimes preaches suggests that even if she gets what she wants, she will never feel secure or satisfied. Who is? Oh, yes, California girls! [8/10]
Chris Ingalls: "When you get bored with me / I'll be back on the shelf." That seems to be the pull-quote most often used to encapsulate what appears to be Grimes' finger-pointing diatribe at the music business. "California" is essentially a sweet pop song, but the layered, sophisticated production that pulls in heavy synths, dance beats and processed vocal tracks make it so much more. This is the glorious sound of someone who takes a standard pop tune into the studio and is scared to death of being bored by it. A restless, gem of an earworm. [9/10]
John Bergstrom: So this is the new single from the Best Album Ever of last year. It has a lot of spunk, for sure. It's a bit too conscious of its own artiness to qualify as pure pop pleasure, but that means it transcends mere "ear candy" status as well. If you're gonna be overproduced, might as well overproduce yourself. [7/10]
Chad Miller: I'm not sure I like the video version as much as the album version, but it does seem like fitting treatment for the song containing the most emotional and gripping moments on Art Angels. The music here seems transcendent in the moments where Grimes is at her most revealing, and manages to capture the emotional journey through a wonderful build-up from a start with almost nothing and growing into the confident ending, though it still seems held back a bit from the album version. [9/10]