Release Date: 2/20/18
U.S. Girls is the solo project of Toronto-based American musician Meghan Remy
In A Poem Unlimited, loosely built around a framework of experimental electro-pop, covers an astonishing amount of ground during the course of its 11 tracks. The album frequently steps outside even these loose bounds though, featuring plentiful acoustic instrumentation (almost all live, non-programmed drums, in fact), as well as drawing direct influence from several decades of musical movements, from the ’60s through to now, all while keeping the compositions danceable and melodic.
The production choices are sublime and tasteful throughout, often featuring instrumental overdubs that seem to fit very well with the vibes set, and musical eras referenced, on their corresponding tracks.
Meghan Remy is also one hell of a lyricist. The lyrics tend to be pretty dark, morose, unsettling. One gets the sense she’s quite afraid of… life. But who isn’t, to some extent? There are songs about feeling physically threatened by males (“Velvet 4 Sale”), several songs about relationships and righteous female anger in general. There are unexpected allusions and a psychological depth very, very rarely heard in pop music. It’s songs like “Rage of Plastics” that make me realize I should be reading lyrics more often.
The funky opener “Velvet 4 Sale” featuring Meghan’s airy vocals is a great way to set the pace for the album. The chorus is also catchy as hell. This is followed up by the ’70’s sounding “Rage of Plastics”, which kicks off immediately with a Sax lead. There are some great intermittent female gospel backing vocals as well. The whole piece is quite soulful, and the instrumentation and production are just sublime.
“M.A.H.” is a disco song. Yes, a disco song. It just has an undeniable charm to it. Notice we haven’t even stepped out of the ’70’s yet. “Rosebud” changes this, bringing us to the R&B inflected pop music of the early ’90’s, and gives us our first taste of programmed percussion.
The follow-up track “Incidental Boogie” is harder to pin down. The winding low-register synth part that carries the track sounds fantastic. It’s a very modern sounding part, but overall, I hear nods to Industrial music, and even ’80’s pop music, considering the vocoder vocals. “L-Over” references the ’60’s with its Beatles-esque harmonized backing vocals. “Pearly Gates” is essentially a ’90’s R&B inspired hip-hop track, sans rapping. The chorus is quite powerful. Again, an impressive amount of ground is covered during the course of this album.
We step deeper into the ’80’s with “Poem”, which features some Depeche Mode-esque synth parts. If you haven’t heard this album as of yet, you may be thinking this album sounds like it’d be a mess. This is actually not so. I think perhaps the albums greatest achievement is just how cohesive it is. It sounds like it was written as an album, regardless of how many different genre’s and instruments it incorporates. The varying use of programmed and acoustic drums, electronic elements and acoustic elements, is all so seamless it’s hardly even noticed unless you are paying attention to it. The album finishes out with “Time”, an upbeat, lengthy, Disco-infused, totally groovy track. The lead guitar parts on this track are excellent. There’s even a guitar solo. What better reference to male machismo is there than that?!
All in all, there is absolutely no filler on this album. Undoubtedly, this is a top contender for one of 2018’s best releases.
Highlights: “M.A.H.”, “Incidental Boogie”, “Pearly Gates”,