Peculiar, but poignant pop
U.S. Girls have dropped their seventh full-length LP, Heavy Light, for your listening pleasure. The unanimously-deemed experimental pop project consists of but a single member, the inimitable Meghan Remy. Hailing from Toronto and having pumped out music since ’07, the relatively seasoned artist has six official full-lengths under her belt, nearly her entire discography met widespread acclaim and has been steadily rising ever since. Although somewhat aberrant and obscure, the pop that she generates is extremely inviting and immune to becoming vapid ever. From the tongue-in-cheek lyrics to random sax yells and intertwining anecdotal interludes, she is one of those few artists that ought to be a requirement in everyone’s sonic stockpile.
The album opens with her pre-released single, “4 American Dollars,” which is another one of those grand and profound rhapsody-type songs that every American artist seems morally obligated to put out. Yet, it’s different from the rest. It’s funky, groovy, glassy and overset with wry sociopolitical lyrics that give it an optimistic gotta-do-what-ya-gotta-do to America’s contemporary state. Sometimes, everyone must remember that “you can do a lot with 4 American dollars” and that everybody fends for themselves because “it’s not personal, it’s business.” Extremely retro, silky, gliding and gives you a strong impulse to do some desiccated swimming, however that might be achieved.
Sonically, there is a wide range of instrumentation going on. The choppy guitar follows pretty religiously throughout and the very tickling and goose-pimple-inducing cut-off modulations appear periodically, always keeping the auditor on their proverbial toes. Although mostly weird through and through, U.S. Girls contends that she can tone it down to a more somber effort in tracks like “IOU” and “Woodstock ‘99” wherein there’s a real singer-songwriter vibe armed only with piano and voice, proving she is a multi-dimensional, protean artist.
This is definitely a piece that isn’t predictable. Especially true when one of the three interludes come around. Each of which poses a question for a response of a dissonant overlapping of voices with their roughly minute-long answers, the mind tries to stick to one but doesn’t have the capacity to divide them all, offering a sweet confusion with scattered words materializing out of the chaos. The first one is “Advice to Teenage Self,” then “The Most Hurtful Thing” and “The Color of Your Childhood Bedroom,” all reflective on the poetics of past and identity.
Lyrically, the narrator is a little hapless. You get lyrics like “there’s nothing left to say – and you don’t know what to believe in” from track six, “Born to Lose,” “I don’t think I can make it/ in 24 hours I’ll be gone just like some melting snow” in “Denise, Don’t Wait” (gargantuan gold star for that) and “can’t breathe in this red Ford anymore/ I’ll do anything to get out, get out” in the final track “Red Ford Radio.” So, it has a radically indifferent undertone, lyrically; yet the delivery is, on the contrary, animated and emotionally saturated.
Nothing competes with this album, none can even be codified within the same echelon. Every track is crisp and calculated, skeletally. But, it seems as if it gets ran through a filter of droll charm that alters it just enough to retain the conventionality and listenability while instilling just the right amount of oddity for a wholesome and novel allure for all.