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

Meg Remy’s U.S. Girls project has been a cathartic vehicle for performer and listener alike since her first album over 10 years ago. Lyrically, Remy has vented about society’s ills since the beginning but for her latest release, she invited a group of Toronto musicians called the Cosmic Range to bolster her musical arsenal. It takes a great deal of bravery and assurance to offer up one’s song-writing against an 8-piece band but the result here is that Remy’s ambitions are given free rein to grapple with a dizzying array of genres.

The electronic excursions of Róisín Murphy come to mind on ‘Velvet 4 Sale’, or latter day David Byrne on ‘Range of Plastics’, and even on ‘Incidental Boogie’ the expansive, industrial sound of Nine Inch Nails isn’t beyond limit. The record’s lead single ‘M.A.H.’ is a standout, with drawn-out synths phasing in between a forthright bassline and unrelenting disco percussion, making it the only song about Barack Obama’s questionable foreign policy you can dance to.

The challenging, almost inaccessible, subject matter of ‘M.A.H.’ is not an anomaly for Remy, or this record. The narrator on ‘Pearly Gates’ learns that the harsh realities of patriarchal life on Earth do not end upon death; entry to heaven is apparently dependent on surrendering to St Peter’s sexual advances. ‘Rage of Plastics’ is a tale of a couple’s fertility woes, which come as a result of work on an oil refinery; an attempt to invoke a personal response about corporate environmental practices.

In a Poem Unlimited is endlessly rewarding, Remy’s confrontational approach should not coexist as seamlessly with such ambitious instrumentation. And even in spite of the continuous nuance, the fervour found in every pocket makes this album a soundtrack for those not yet sick of shouting.

Niall O’Shaughnessy – Music Writer

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