This U.S. Girls article was written by Eleanor Wallace, a GIGsoup contributor
Toronto-based Meg Remy is the creator behind U.S. Girls; a solo project for the counter-cultured, cutting artist within. She’s a modern musician with an old heart, combining electronica with influences that span decades, and what we get is an untamable album that is packed full of surprises.
Her voice has a husky rock music quality similar to Stevie Nicks and occasional jarring fluctuation of Bjork, but with a beautiful warble thrown in. It is often drowned under layers of instrumentation which range from feedback-heavy guitar solos to the pulsation of a Donna Summer-style synthesiser.
An addict for loops, Remy pounds away with biting social commentary and a repetition of pop-y sounds that keep you moving. Some tracks risk sounding a little static, claustrophobic even in their repetitiveness, but still with their own individual hook.
The opening of ‘Half Free’ is a deep, trembling bass that builds you up in a slow robotic bop. ‘Sororal Feelings’ is a song full of despair in the face of toxic love, and yet Remy’s retro vocal style, thick with tangible emotion, creates a haunting paradox. It’s a common theme throughout: the artifice of creating synth-pop/psychedelic rock songs that are so addictive you forget how dark they are. ‘Damn That Valley’, a fiery pop single, is a portrait of an American everywoman/everyman lamenting in the aftermath of War: “Where is my man? He promised me he’d come back alive”.
The downbeat 80s single ‘Woman’s Work’ intrigues us with lyrics about young women: “You arrived your mother’s arms / But you will leave / Riding in a red limousine”. A kaleidoscopic video accompanying this song, directed and edited by Remy, forces us to evaluate beauty ideals; the rivalry between the archetypical aging woman and her younger counterpart competing for the screen.
‘Red Comes In Many Shades’ stands out, still with themes of young women and heartbreak, but with deeper vocals that are suddenly sultry and dangerous. In a total change of style, the addictive ‘Navy & Cream’ introduces an 80s ballad-pop style with a vulnerability in the lyrics we have not heard. The chameleon Remy certainly defies any expectations you thought you had.
This album is so busy that it is hard to pinpoint the highs and lows. But as a whole, Remy has produced something unusual, and completely alluring. She uses her autonomy as an artist to create a collective body of work across music and film, and her power is undeniable. She teases her enraptured audience with satire while the throbbing beat holds us in a zombie-like bedroom dance.
‘Half Free’ is out on the 25th September via 4AD.