Release Date: Mar 6, 2020
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Heavy Lights title was inspired by Franz Kafka, the master of blending sociopolitical pressures with the frustration of surviving in a post-industrial world, and his popular quote: "A belief is like a guillotine. Just as heavy, just as light." While Remy's lyrical concerns and thematic conceits may hang on that tension between the personal and the political issues of modern living, the music itself doesn't give you any chance to wallow. Heavy Light is a marked departure from the swampy robo-voodoo-disco of her previous record, the rather excellent In a Poem Unlimited, and a turn towards a far more luxurious, exuberant, breathless blend of soul and funk, with many sincere gospel flourishes and a handful of gorgeous ballads.
In her long career as a sound collagist and pop music obsessive, Meg Remy has thrived in moments of feminized vitriol. The women of Remy's songs are so often threatening to asphyxiate themselves, on the verge of suicide, and mad as hell. For much of her career, U.S. Girls has been an exploration of female violence and rage.
For the better part of a decade, Meg Remy's U.S. Girls has been expanding and shifting. Her original self-produced tape experiments under the name bear little resemblance to the disco pop found in 2018's critically acclaimed In a Poem Unlimited. Her latest album, Heavy Light, continues to broaden her musical boundaries, but with an introspective eye towards her past 10 years under the U.S.
U.S. Girls isn't as much a band as an ever-mutating organism. Begun by experimental songwriter Meg Remy in the late 2000s as a noisy solo act backed by reel-to-reel tapes, the project grew into a monolith of larger-than-life pop. 2018's In a Poem Unlimited was one of Remy's finest moments, with her polymathic songwriting bending disco-funk, glam rock, and ambient composition into new forms.
In less than forty minutes, Meg Remy's U.S. Girls project reinterprets a vast slice of the American musical landscape all interlaid with Remy's social concerns. Whereas 2018's fractured disco masterpiece, In A Poem Unlimited, stuck primarily to the knitting of its genre, Heavy Light covers the waterfront. Opening track 4 American Dollars provides a link back to Poem, but it's more of a jumping-off point than a continuation.
T he many albums of US Girls - Meghan Remy - could be summed up as a series of sound art installations evolving from experimentation into bold tunefulness. Album six, Half Free (2015), sketched female character studies like a pop Cindy Sherman. Album seven, 2018's celebrated In a Poem Unlimited, was angrier and more explicitly political, even if Remy herself sounded like Debbie Harry doing disco.