By Jason Herring, March 6 2018 —
Anger permeates the surface of much of Meg Remy’s music, but never more explicitly than on her latest album, In A Poem Unlimited. Remy, an American-turned-Canuck who makes music under the tongue-in-cheek moniker of U.S. Girls, crafts narratives examining the frustrations of women done wrong by men throughout her insular and indignant album.
Lyrically, the angriest cut comes early in the album with the aptly titled lead single “Mad as Hell.” The song shrouds its criticisms of former United States President Barack Obama with an ABBA-esque disco pop beat and falsetto vocals that seem to lament an old flame. But a deeper look makes it clear that the song is about the feeling of political betrayal from Obama’s campaign to his presidency — punctuated by war crimes. “You were the first in line to use those bugs up high — the coward’s weapon of choice,” Remy seethes.
As the album progresses, Remy’s anger starts to manifest itself musically. “Incidental Boogie,” the album’s best, is narrated by a woman trapped in domestic violence. It retains the early album’s disco beat but warps it into a brooding fever dream. “L-Over” maintains the hazy atmosphere with its guitars’ mechanical and undulating twang.
As In A Poem Unlimited strays from its early ABBA resemblance, it quickly takes the form of another ‘70s staple. Remy’s impassioned vocals bear striking similarity to Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, especially on tracks like “Rosebud” and “Time.” Sonically, those tracks take more from Remy’s art-pop contemporaries like Julia Holter, as violin loops form the base of the former track while the latter explodes into a complex, jazzy cacophony atop the album’s simplest lyrics.
At once immediately accessible and deceptively complex, Remy’s more colourful avant-pop tendencies draw listeners in before confronting them with bursts of ambience, jazz and spoken word. In a way, this musical dichotomy reflects the women in the stories Remy tells throughout In A Poem Unlimited — in the cracks of these stories’ ersatz exteriors and raw emotion, a hesitant light shines through. And in those moments of experimentation and clarity, Remy shines too.