Album Review: U.S. Girls – ‘In A Poem Unlimited’

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It’s difficult to believe that Meg Remy is just one person. In a Poem Unlimited, like its precursor Half Free, is a triumph of many voices and musical styles, painting an imposing, maximal cross-section of the role of women in America through the last few decades (what else? – considering her chosen pseudonym). Remy invokes the ghosts of every conceivable American pop genre since 1970 in some form and manipulates them to fit snugly within her radical lyricism. 
Sinister 80s synth-pop on ‘Incidental Boogie’, 70s disco basslines on ‘Rosebud’ and 90s hip-hop beats on ‘Pearly Gates’ mesh seamlessly with electric lyrics decrying male dominance (and other demons) with acerbic wit and precision. As on Half Free, nowhere are Remy’s dark humoured politics more apparent than through her interludes. ‘Why Do I Lose My Voice When I Have Something To Say’ and ‘Traviata’ give the album a discordant, unexpected edge while lending it a degree of levity – simultaneously informing the listener that Remy knows you know what her ulterior political motivations are, but forgoing self-indulgence of any sort.

This record doesn’t fall particularly far from the previous one, and it’s difficult to know if it builds upon or simply next to it at times. The structures are very similar down to the lengths of the final tracks, and the main artistic development seems to be the inclusion of a wider pool of instrumentation more than anything else. This is not to say that Remy is being self-derivative or has developed slowly between albums – In a Poem Unlimited is certainly more consistent than Half Free, and only borrows parts from its predecessor which are worth extrapolating upon, cutting away redundant aesthetic decisions and branching out from the anachronistic noir-pop that characterised some sections of her previous work. This album is incremental change at its finest, and is sure to leave listeners itching for a new release barely as it comes off the shelves.

[Nour El-Issa – @dimredspectre]

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