U.S. Girls is an American-Canadian music project led by Meghan Remy, and though originally centered around a very noisy, lo-fi aesthetic, Meghan has decided for this album, In a Poem Unlimited, to go for a much cleaner, polished sound. The result is an incredibly catchy art-pop album, combining elements funk, psychedelic, and late 70s/80s rock as well as a whole mess of other genres that find themselves on various tracks.
The whole album kicks off with ‘Velvet 4 Sale’; this very slow, funky, trippy song with these African-style drums and fluctuating guitars. The groovy baseline which covers the whole track, as well as the horn section during the chorus reminds of the Plastic Soul-era of David Bowie, particularly the album Young Americans. Yet this is not the only Bowie influences on the album, as some of the very erratic horn sections on tracks like ‘Rage of Plastics’ remind me of some of Bowie’s art-rock albums like Aladdin Sane and Blackstar. The groovy bass and drum patterns made this song very danceable, much like the following track and lead single from the album ‘M.A.H’ (Mad as Hell), which along with rising synthesizers during the chorus which makes this easily one of the catchiest and funkiest songs on the album.
The track ‘Rosebud’ starts to show the album going in a different direction with the set of strings accompanying the tracks, as well as the very sparse, almost 90s pop style keys which set up the groove of the track, as well as more great drum patterns. This change in direction evolves into the song ‘Incidental Boogie’, which is easily the most chaotic and noisy track on the album, with the heavy guitar chords splashed throughout and squelching riffs. However, the following song ‘L-Over’ goes back to a much funkier direction, with the return of the fantastically groovy bassline which was present on the first three tracks. Meghan’s vocal performance really fits with the style of the song, with her sudden changes in pitch as well as her Cyndi Lauper-esque timbre. The volatility of the album then swings back in with ‘Pearly Gates’ which has this strong early Hip-Hop and R&B influences in not just the instrumentation and vocal performances, but also James Baley’s chorus which sounds very similar to Nate Dogg’s flow in the song ‘Regulate’ by Warren G. The song ‘Poem’ is the ‘synth-pop’ tune on the album, with its combination of sputtering, almost psychedelic synths and driving drum-machines. The whole album ends off with the very funky, visceral ‘Time’ which is by far the longest track on the album, littered with compelling guitar riffs and erratic horn sections, as well as the consistently excellent drum and bass that is present across the entire album.
the more relationship-centered songs are not your usual soppy, pop anthems
Lyrically, this album deals a lot with female struggle, presented in either the grander scheme of how they are treated in society, such as ‘Rage of Plastics’ dealing with the pay gap, or within specific examples of relationship stories. However, some of the themes presented in the more relationship-centered songs are not your usual soppy, pop anthems. Instead, Meghan delivers very interesting topics and ideas, with my favourite song on the album ‘M.A.H’ detailing her disappointing relationship with Barack Obama’s presidency, vocalizing her frustrations with his excessive foreign intervention and drone strikes. This set up of relationships with political figures I feel continues into the song ‘Incidental Boogie’ where she details moving from one relationship in which “life made no sense without a beating…” and then finding herself a “real man / who don’t hit as hard”, which I believe to be about her moving from America to Canada, in which she has left Obama’s nation and now is dealing with Trudeau.
Overall, this is a very good, fun and interesting record. The very funky and groovy production followed by eccentric and intriguing lyrics and vocal performance make for what I feel to be possibly one of the best pop albums of the year. The only issues I have is that the songs ‘Rosebud’ and ‘Poem’ have neither the funkiness of ‘M.A.H’ and ‘L-Over’ and neither the wildness of ‘Incidental Boogie’ or ‘Pearly Gates’, so end up being a lull in the track listing. Also, the whole experience is quite messy, with big sonic changes occurring between tracks with little rhyme or reason. Despite this, it remains a thoroughly enjoyable listen.