IN PRAISE OF: U.S. Girls - In a Poem Unlimited

21 Feb 2018

"U.S. Girls are more musically diverse and lyrically sardonic than ever"


IN PRAISE OF, we explore the critical accliam of Meg Remy's new venture 'In a Poem Unlimited' under the U.S. Girls pseudonym.

"Meg Remy is a narrative savant and her glorious, danceable new album is a righteous collection of razor-sharp songs, full of spit and fury, a high-water mark for political pop music." - Pitchfork

"In A Poem Unlimited’ might be Toronto-based musician and artist Meg Remy’s sixth studio album under the US Girls name, but it’s entirely likely you’ve never heard of her. Decidedly under the radar, she’s spent the past decade or so crafting music from the fringes. Until now. On this very modern protest album, she’s managed to distil the bubbling female rage that’s finally become headline news and created a woozy, hypnotic album that’s rooted in electronica and dreamy, jazzy interludes, but also manages to encompass disco, funk, soul, dub, trip-hop, art-pop, noise-rock, industrial and quite a lot of ABBA." - NME

"...the second work for 4AD by the Toronto-based, Illinois-born artist arrives with perfect timing, and tackles difficult issues with her most accessible music so far.

The mix of classic 60s girl group and disco-era Blondie is so gloriously celebratory that it’s not always obvious that she is singing about something as harrowing as domestic violence. That subject rears its ugly head most vividly in the innocuously titled track Incidental Boogie, which unflinchingly explores abuse and denial (“No marks and no evidence” and “I feel brutalised, but closer to him”) over fizzing sci-fi funk. Remy isn’t the first artist to musically sweeten a bitter lyrical pill, but her collaboration with Toronto musical collective the Cosmic Range (who include her husband, Maximilian Turnbull) makes an effective vehicle for sharp ruminations on topics such as factory work hell (Rage of Plastics), violent revenge on an abuser (Velvet 4 Sale) and her disappointment with American politics (Mad As Hell).

There’s humour, too, as the ribald romp Pearly Gates describes an encounter with Saint Peter, in the role of heaven’s power-abusing bouncer, via a succession of saucy double entendres. Remy’s singing retains its airy sweetness as the music shape shifts from that song’s G-funk to delicately dreamy atmospherics (Rosebud) or swaggering electro-disco (L-Over) via an array of sax-blasting pop-dance songs with knowing nods to David Bowie’s Berlin period. It’s protest music, in the guise of joyous, life-affirming pop." - The Gaurdian

"Throughout, there’s a dynamic contrast of ultra-femininity with talk of violence, power, and crouching wrath. On 'Velvet For Sale,' though her voice is petal-soft, surrounded by Donna Summer breathing and the unmistakable wah-wah of ‘70s exploitation-flick soundtracks, she’s got blood on her mind. “It’s all just fiction," she sings sweetly, “But don’t forget the revenge.” 'Mad As Hell,' with its dance-ready beat and Remy’s take on 'Heart Of Glass' vocals, is straight disco fantasy as she rails against political deception—an ingenious take on anti-war protest meets Studio 54." - Paste Magazine

"Though it is unmistakably a record about women’s anger in its various shades and forms, Remy signals her awareness of male canons throughout (its title comes from Hamlet and the song “Rosebud” is a clear reference to Citizen Kane.) Those landmark texts are there to be turned inside out: Remy is interested in creating new mythologies, fertilizing stale old ground to nurture a different sort of harvest. The shuffling funk of “Pearly Gates,” for instance, turns a story of quotidian male cluelessness into a religious allegory, asking how a heaven controlled by men could ever be safe.

That might sound to some like a facile observation. But none of the songs on Poem can be folded neatly into a box. Remy remains a narrative savant wedded to the thrill of the unexpected, the razor under the tongue, and she fills her songs with cryptic passages and unexpected allusions. Making a record without psychological depth (or music fit to accompany it) might cause her to break out into hives. The album’s first track, the foreboding, psychedelic “Velvet 4 Sale” sets up a woman’s revenge tale. With its breathy ad-libs and spiraling, almost-Western cinematic synths, it would slot nicely into the soundtrack of Kill Bill: Vol 2, and it includes that most phallic of all musical passages, the guitar solo. The song, co-written with Remy’s husband, the musician Max Turnbull, begins in media res: “You’ve been sleeping with one eye open because he always could come back, ya know? And you’ve been walking these streets unguarded waiting for any man to explode.” It ends (spoiler alert!) with a woman instructing another on how to ensure that her male target is dead." - Pitchfork

This is the most rewarding album from the project yet, as it only seems to unfold further and further as you delve deeper and keep replaying. Meg Remy may have enlisted many collaborators to help bring about the polychromatic genre-hopping collection, but it is still her album first and foremost. She is the soul and the voice of U.S. Girls; the project - and beyond. - the 405

'In a Poem Unlimited is out now.

U.S. Girls perform at Scala, 23 May.

Tickets on sale now!

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