By C.B. Radio
Meg Remy’s main music project, the ironically named Canadian band U.S. Girls, has grown increasingly more abstract and ambitious since her first album dropped nearly 10 years ago. Remy – the young, Ronnie Spector sound-alike – has always leaned toward minimalism in her songwriting. Her early work is defined by sparse instrumentation, digital drum beats, obscure Motown samples. U.S. Girls have always sounded soulful – never more so than on 2015’s excellent ‘Half Free’ – but if Remy’s early music is lacking in any way, her ambitions often outreach her grasp, sometimes resulting in drone-like redundancies that do a disservice to the often-excellent songwriting.
This time, Remy’s ambitions finally pay off. “In A Poem Unlimited,” her album with U.S. Girls released Feb. 16, 2018, is her best yet, largely because she actively breaks this songwriting pattern. It’s her tightest, catchiest record by far. The difference here, it seems, has to do with Remy’s willingness to write and record “Unlimited” with a full band. Ditching the Motown samples and PC drumbeats further illuminates Remy’s songwriting, which has never been better than it is at this stage of her career.
The lead single, “Mad As Hell,” serves as the best example of Remy’s songwriting prowess. For some, it’s nothing short of a feminist anthem. “As if you couldn’t tell, I’m mad as hell,” shouts Remy in the chorus. The music video: Remy, silhouetted by American flags and nuclear bombs. She really does seem pissed. The track itself brims with energy we haven’t heard in prior U.S. Girls releases, another testament to the value of Remy’s new band. Its pounding rhythm section is relentless.
The album flirts with genre; several tracks, including highlight single “Rosebud,” could nearly double as hip hop sans a featured rapper. But the best song on the record is “Poem,” an electric-synth odyssey that lays bare Remy’s mission statement. “We all know what’s right,” Remy croons, sounding more like Ronnie Spector than ever. “We didn’t get it from a book or a sign. We know it in our bones, in our bloodflows.” The upbeat tempo coupled with Remy’s inspiring lyrics make “Poem” – and the album as a whole – an especially poignant feminist call-to-arms that’s not seen enough within the confines of indie rock.
Meg Remy will continue to turn heads as she navigates the modern musical landscape, and her newest album, “In A Poem Unlimited,” should inspire contemporaries like Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, and Jay Som to step up their games. There’s a new queen of indie rock.